Finding Rest When You are Stressed

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

This afternoon I awoke from a nap, birthed into a state of perfect peace.

My body felt heavy, like a boulder cradled into the earth. I lazed in this space of inertia – laden with limp limbs, clouded head. My body rested in this thin line of blissful heaven. Even as I try to speak to my husband, my words felt heavy.

It is not often I succumb to such delight.


* * *

crawl in

Four days ago, I decided I would write a blog post about finding spiritual whitespace, and link it to Faith Barista. Me, the overachiever, burn-the-candle-at-both-ends, workaholic. Write about whitespace?

Until recently, I didn’t know what whitespace was, let alone incorporate it in my day. Finding Spiritual Whitespace gives the body and soul a place to rest, a place to rejuvenate. The demands of my job as oncology nurse, housewife, and writer all seemed to collide. To top it off, this is springtime in Maine (which means yardwork!), and I am in the process of mending an injured knee and designing a new website.

I’m the girl who never has enough time. I carry to-do lists on paper and in mobile devices. My endless efforts drain my soul, as I try to maintain an unsustainable pace: I walk fast, cook fast, eat fast and drive fast – all in hopes of creating additional time to accomplish – more.

I slip into bed when my husband is snoring; I rise before his snoring stops. At night I lie awake in the dark. My mind bulges like the laundry basket of ironing. I mentally do over portions of my day. I consider the emotional conversations with my distraught cancer patients. Pingrams, Instagram, and PicMonkey flood my brain waves. Chaos clouds my calm.

My husband and I recently bought Fitbits, wrist-worn devices that track calories burned, activity and sleep. Each week a progress report lands in my inbox with personal statistics. No surprise it reported my average nightly sleep duration of five hours, one minute. No wonder I am exhausted!

Even in my state of exhaustion, I resist rest. I would have none of it, as I’m reminded in Isaiah 30:15. I press to write the story, tackle the housework – despite my increasing stress.

The words and the work came hard.

I now believe the Lord placed this writing ‘assignment’ on my heart for my benefit, and perhaps for yours, too.

This morning I reluctantly took a break from my writing to get dressed. As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, I fumbled with my mascara, dropped my comb and spilled coffee in my haste.

Exasperated, I stepped back from the mirror.

God can deliver a word through an emotion. In my case, He spoke through my stress. Through the tiny mishaps, He got my attention.

I thought of all the times He calls to me, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20 NIV).

How many times have I either ignored His knocks or tossed His invitations into my kitchen junk drawer, thinking I would respond to Him at a more convenient time?

Thankfully, He is patient and persistent.

Today, before the bathroom mirror, I sensed He asked me to seek Him, to lean into Him – for soul care.

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 ESV).

This was as good a day as any to succumb to soul rest. Despite the sunny 75-degree temperatures, my husband and I yielded to a mid-afternoon nap. I allowed the rest to bathe me, cleansing me with spiritual soul rest.

The depths of my one-hour nap unleashed a resurgence of energy. Instead of the frantic-rush around kind, though, this energy flowed from refreshed emotions. My countenance lifted. I awakened filled with the possibilities as if this were a new day, as if I had more time. Whitespace lingered for hours.

restinwhitespaceRest made the rest of my day seem easier.

At day’s end, I crawled into bed with my husband, before the snoring. His words touched me in an unexpected way.

He told me I don’t put my day to bed.

He leaned in, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and explained, “You work on a continuum, having no stopping point – no resting point in your life. It’s like you never put your day to bed, so you can’t receive a new day.”

I don’t put my day to bed.

He is right.

I never thought of it this way. Close the day I am leaving behind, and receive the new day when I awake, clean, like a new white page.

I leaned over to turn off my bedside lamp and rolled over, leaving the day behind – along with the extinguished light.

I settled into the whitespace of rest.


  • 7 years ago

    Those covers are so inviting! And the story of a hectic pace and personality finally sinking into that heavy sleep feels perfect. You needed it. You need it still. We all need it. Thank you for being so honest and giving us a vision for building in rest.

    • Sharon Gibbs
      7 years ago

      Ann, I am so pleased you stopped by! Thank you! Yes, we all need rest. When did people stop valuing the idea of rest? I am happy to have rediscovered it and hope others do, too.

  • Cathy Thompson, Madison, Maine, USA
    7 years ago

    It’s much easier finding that white space when you are retired. A nap is totally restorative and rejuvenating. My greenhouse gives me “awake white space.” I feel transported to another place when planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, watering, tending and nurturing my plants. God teaches beautiful lessons when your spirit is quiet and tuned in to him.

    • Sharon Gibbs
      7 years ago

      Cathy, Yes, I am so glad you find the blessings in your “awake white space.” I believe we can be restored when we focus on applying the gifts He gives us. And yes, a nap never hurts!

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