We crawled out of bed at 4:40 in the morning. We were going to the beach.
I am not a fan of early mornings. Even being surrounded by some of the people I love the most, I was not a happy camper, or, I suppose in this case, beach goer.
We hit the road a little after five, stopping at a gas station soon after getting into Maryland to fill up on gas and grab some food for the trip. It was about a four hour drive (once we turned off the setting to avoid tolls…) so we arrived at Ocean City, MD around 9:30 in the morning.
We strolled down the boardwalk to find a place to change after parking in a lot we could stay in until 5:07 pm. I hadn’t been to the beach in two years, which was soon after I stopped being a “vampire” (I was on a medication that kept me out of the sun for a whole year. Saying I was a vampire was more fun than explaining all that, though. However, the sun did not make me sparkle [sadly], nor did it make me spontaneously combust [thankfully]. It just made me possibly more likely to burned, get skin cancer, or be photosensitive [which has nothing to do with pictures, apparently. I did research and was disappointed], so I spent a summer in long dresses and sleeves and still prefer long dresses in the summertime over shorts and am addicted to cardigans now). I still struggle being in the sun, thanks to all my research during my vampire days and the fact I got quite burned the last time I went to the beach, so I was a little leery of our day trip to the beach.
But, I was pleasantly surprised.
It was the most relaxing day I have had in a long time despite it being Memorial Day weekend and there being *gasp* people at the beach. (Hello, world! I am Katherine Smith and am very much an introvert.)
It wasn’t terribly crowded and it was a cool day at the beach, meaning I was able to stay covered most of the day except for when I got in the water (which was cold) and while I was trying to dry off (and get warm at the same time. It was a little rough).
Leah and I both brought things to read…and somehow no reading got accomplished. We were content to lay on the beach, simply resting and enjoying each other’s company. Of course, good conversations were had and we got to catch up with each other, but it was mostly a day of rest.
I believe we all fell asleep at some point, ending up with some beautiful sun burns on the boys. (Leah and I reapplied sunscreen at least four times in the six hours we spent in the sun, Andrew put it on once, and Tyler refused to use it at all which resulted in lobster legs.) It was amazing how stress free and relaxed I felt while simply being still and being there.
I feel like too often I forget I don’t have to be doing something constantly for my time to be well spent. There is a difference between being lazy and resting. It is actually biblical to rest, which is something the Spirit has been teaching me lately. The idea of Sabbath was given to us by God because he knew we need to rest, despite what we may tell ourselves, or how we may feel about taking time to do nothing.
I am bad at doing nothing until I am really good at it. When I’m good at it, usually it’s in the wrong way and I still end up not truly being rested. Spending my down time on my phone doesn’t help me rest, I need to read, write, knit, or just be still (naps are my favorite way to accomplish this) to be rested.
To truly be rested, I have to be spiritually rested as well. I cannot rest when my soul is in a state of unrest. If I don’t have peace and trust in God, I cannot be still. Yet, he calls us to be still. I have to work harder at this than I think I should, but because it is so very important, I have been focusing on resting well.
My journey toward rest started during the fall. After getting married in August, I had stepped down from all my responsibilities at Grace with the exception of teaching on Wednesday nights. At Fairview, I helped lead worship, but not every week. December rolled around and I was working longer, more stressful hours (retail is exhausting) so I turned down all but one week’s invite to sing.
Then came January and my calling to write. Along with that, I felt a calling to learn to rest.
To write well, I have to find calm. I have to be rested. I have to be still and allow what God wants me to say to come out. I have to find myself in the peace God provides.
Sometimes, I find that peace by writing. There are some things I have written I wouldn’t ever publish because they are not me, they are me trying to figure out what’s going on in my head and trying to make more sense of life.
Sometimes, I find that peace by spending six hours at the beach with my friends, doing absolutely nothing but being still and enjoying the beautiful day God made.
Sometimes, I think it is important to get away to a different place or at least to a different state of mind to really take time to focus on resting. Maybe you need to work through your life and decide what your priorities are right now, why they are priorities, and how you can put periods of rest into your life.
I am going to continue to figure out what rest looks like for me as I go through life changes and see where God leads me. So far I know it’s led me to you, so where is it leading you?