Don’t just do something

By Sara McGinley

In a twenty minute drive the other day I heard at least three advertisements that claimed to offer people rest, for a price.

America doesn’t need any more things to keep them awake. What we really need is something to help us sleep better. Buy a mattress.

Buy this condo and spend more time doing what you want to do – even if what you want to do is nothing.

Get mom what she really wants. A day of relaxation.

These are not self-help things. There is nothing inherently spiritual about a condo or a mattress or a pedicure, although I have several friends who would disagree certainly about the pedicure and perhaps about the condo and the mattress.

People are aching for rest. For a break. For a time out.

Large companies are selling a break. They’re selling a rest. They’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what will sell their product and their answer is rest.

The beginning of our bible starts with God doing a whole lot of work and then resting.

Jesus was known to even annoy people by resting when he needed it.

Despite that fact, many of us still over-work. Many of us schedule one day off a week which we rarely take. Many of us are given vacation every year that we don’t use.

I’m getting more and more accustomed to hearing people brag about how long it has been since their last day off.

I’ve heard and read sermons in which clergy talk about how long its been since they had a break as if this is normal, healthy, expected and something that should earn them a badge of honor.

Why are we doing this?

What is stopping us from scheduling and taking two days off every week?

What is stopping us from scheduling vacations? Why aren’t we scheduling actual vacations that last at least five days during which we don’t check our email or voice-mail.

I’m sure the answer to those questions are good, important, valid things.

So many good, important valid things that we’re all tired.

It seems that tiredness has been around so long we think we invited it to our party.

It doesn’t have to be here. It really doesn’t have to be here. We were made for good hard work. We were also made for rest. Rest with integrity and regularity.

Amazingly, rest has become something that is hard to come by and hard to admit to.

A colleague recently apologized for not coming to a meeting because he was going on a much needed weekend away with his new wife.

Since when to we apologize for making our families more important than meetings?

There is a way to invite rest back into our lives and to encourage it to stay.

It means pulling out our planners and that good old ‘just say no’ skill Nancy Reagan encouraged us all to propagate back in the 80s.

It means sticking to it even when other people get annoyed, when you’re tempted to schedule just that one little, tiny meeting, or when everything feels absolutely weird.

In the last five years of working with people as a life coach I’ve seen people make significant and life-giving changes in their lives.

Many of these changes are simple things that change the whole way in which they order their lives.

Finding rest by taking time away from work is one of the most profound I’ve seen.

When you’ve had enough rest your mind will work better, your body will feel better, your ideas will be more clear, you will be more inspired and inspirational.

Here is the challenge:

Find two days a week, preferably in a row and schedule them as days off. Meetings, email and voice mail are off limits.

Experts say it takes 60 days to create a habit. I say giving a whole 3 months to a new habit means it’s really there.

The summer is a perfect time for this new habit. Others will have less resistance to your new, free-er schedule and you can hopefully enjoy those days off outside.

After committing to this for the three months of summer it will be part of your life by the fall and you can continue it more easily than if you started this in September.

When you’ve had enough rest and it’s a part of your life again others will catch the bug. They’ll get what mattress companies, and spas and real estate developers are trying to sell them for hundreds and thousands of dollars.


Sara McGinley, irreverent priest’s wife and mother of two, writes the blog subtly named, Sara McGinley.


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