Rest and Retreat I flopped down onto my mentor’s sofa exhausted, she handed me a cup of tea and asked me a question. “When was the last time you rested?” With a half smile, embarrassed and somewhat guilty, I replied. “I watched Netflix last night?” I wasn’t even convinced of my answer - how could she be? Throughout university, rest and I had a complicated relationship. Rest required more from me than I was willing to give. For a time period at least, rest asked me to give up control of my calendar, the hours in my day and the goals I was yet to achieve. Rest required me to stop and reflect when striving felt like a better option. I didn’t trust rest, but I trusted control. Control and I had a much better relationship, until the evenings came, the to-do list wasn’t completed and I was left feeling burnt out and defeated. “I don’t have time for rest.” “Well, let’s make time.” I’m a planner, and a full calendar makes me happy for a number of reasons. It’s interesting how I’ll happily schedule coffee dates with friends and meetings with other people in the Fusion team, but when it comes to rest, the thing that is supposed to sustain me, suddenly the hours are “too full”. My mentor challenged me to schedule rest into my calendar as a discipline of creating personal boundaries and space to retreat. She challenged me to rest for just 2 hours every week which felt like a stretch at the start, but helped me to take responsibility for my own calendar. I did what she advised. I scheduled my rest. I took time off. At this point, I’d love to tell you that my understanding of ‘retreat culture’ was transformed and all burn out was diminished. But that would be a lie. You see, in those moments of stillness, I was left alone with God and my own thoughts. It wasn’t inspiring or refreshing, it was daunting. The thoughts that began to rise to the surface were so easily masked by a full calendar and a busy week. Questions would begin to rise up. “If all I do today is sit with God, is that a day well spent?” “If I gave up all control, would God still have my back?” “If I didn’t have my job/role in church/the platform, would I still know I’m loved?” “If I’m not completing a to-do list, do I still believe I’m enough?” We all know what the answers to these questions should be, but my reality was that without finishing a to-do list, without a label and without control, I was close to forgetting who I was, and what God had really made me for. To be in relationship with Him. Those weekly 2 hours in the secret place taught me that I am enough without a completed to-do list, that without any labels He still calls me His daughter, and without control He’s still got me held. The purpose of rest was transformed. Initially a space to recover after burnout, it quickly became a space where I allowed God to take the reigns of my calendar and my life, and through that, new dreams were breathed and my relationship with Him was refreshed. Perhaps your someone who holds too tightly to your calendar, or perhaps you’re someone who tries to rest but never feels refreshed. Know that you have permission to be still. To sit, throw out the to-do list and allow your Dad to refresh you. You have permission to dream new dreams, to ask your Dad what He wants to do in you and through you. You have permission to give up control, because as it turns out, the God who created the stars and the mountains and the rushing waterfalls, also created you for relationship, and He’s not going to let a full Google Calendar get in the way. How can you choose to rest with Him today? Viki Tailor is a guest blogger who works for Fusion Movement. She lives up in Sheffield and seeks to equip students to be able to share their faith and reach other students.