My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Challenge of Rest

I finished that book by Wayne Cordiero...such a good, practical read on preventing and battling and healing from burnout. I would highly recommend it to anyone in full-time ministry.

I have definitely faced my battles here with burnout. I am an introvert by nature and need time to myself, but there have been seasons where there was no rest in sight. We all live on the same compound and, at times, it can feel like it is a bit of a fishbowl. Surrounded by beauty, but hard to escape.

This year, I have been attempting to find a better balance with rest and work and kids and life and communicating back home. It has been really hard. I haven't figured it out yet. But I am working on it.

The challenge with rest is that, when you do find moments of rest, they can feel a bit like stolen moments, which make you feel guilty. 

I have the constant "I should" mantra running through my head.

I should go play with the kids.

I should go help someone with homework.

I should go spend time with our volunteers.

I should get that done for school tomorrow.

A never-ending stream of "I should."

But, I am learning that the "I should"'s aren't necessarily the voice of truth.

"I could" do so many things with my time. But, if I don't rest, the things that I do choose to spend my time doing are only going to get a piece of me that is tired and weary and the energy of a fully-charged Autumn is worth the rest.

Rest should not be a place of guilt, but one that frees.

After all, it is a mandate that God set forth at the very creation of the earth. So, why do I feel the need to strive to do everything and miss that special gift that God gave us in a day of rest?

So, here are some things I am processing and being challenged by:

1. Wayne talked in his book about figuring out the top 5% of your life and where you desire to spend your time. Once you identify that top 5%, build your days and weeks to make sure that top 5% stays at the top. Here are my top five:
     1. My relationship with God (something I have struggled with maintaining in the busy seasons, so I have pulled out my journal again, found a devotional that I am really enjoying, and spend time in God's Word everyday--even if that means I might be a few minutes late to school.)
     2. My relationship with my friends and family (I love my friends and family and they are constantly on my mind and heart. There are a few relationships I have felt convicted about that I need to pursue more.)
     3. My ministry (this school, these kids, these teachers, John and Stacy, and all our friends and partners here.)
     4. Expressing myself creatively (this is something that I seem to have forgotten in this season and it disappears when I get too busy...I love to write music and sing new songs, but I have felt so tired that it hasn't been an option. I love to do creative things, write, paint a little, scrapbook, take pictures, create...and all these things have almost disappeared from my life. Something that I need to work on because it makes me feel so alive.)
     5. My health (something I do not prioritize and try not to think about but something that God continues to bring back to my mind and heart...I need to take better care of my body...which includes exercise, eating well, and rest.)

2. Wayne also talked about scheduling in your breaks when you start a new monthly calendar. This is the first thing that usually goes, unless it is set and can't be moved from your schedule. My friend Isaiah challenged me with choosing rest on my travels home. They are often so packed, I return to Ghana exhausted. So, I am trying to even choose rest in my trip home, which is hard when I have to choose between rest and relationship.

3. Sleeping in...in front of the clock. This was also something Wayne talked about. Our deepest sleep cycle...the place where our body gets its best rest...is from 11pm-3am at night. Yet, many will go to sleep later and "sleep in" far into the morning, waking up still tired. His suggestion was to go to bed an hour or two earlier than that 11:00pm REM sleep cycle, which allows you to wake up earlier, feeling more rested because you had that deep sleep. The past few weeks, I have struggled with getting to sleep early. This is common for me when I am stressed. Tossing and turning until sleep finally claims me around midnight or one. Frustrating when I know the wake up call will come at 5:30 am. So, I am trying to figure out how to sleep in in front of the clock, gain back some of that rest.

4. Purposeful rest is hard for me. I usually go so long and hard that when I do finally get time to rest, I completely withdraw and hermit myself away for days at a time. Not healthy for relationships and not healthy for my body. I am trying to figure out how to take purposeful days of rest so that this complete withdrawal doesn't happen quite so often.

How do you find rest? What are your challenges with finding purposeful rest in the midst of a busy and striving world?

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