It’s June! Summer! A season of rest and relaxation. Ahhhh! Resting has been a theme of mine in these postpartum weeks. I am discovering that rest is actually a discipline; I thought it would be much easier to slow down than it has been. But that is not the only thing I’ve recently discovered.
I have long considered Susanna Wesley, mother of the famous sibling duo: John and Charles Wesley, a role model. I knew she was the mother of 19 children, had taught them at home and was intentional about spending individual time with them during the week. I was eager to learn more about this incredible woman of history and devoured Arnold A. Dillamore’s biography about her. I was startled to discover how little I really knew about her.
She had birthed 19 children in 19 years but buried 9 of them in infancy or shortly thereafter; her house burned twice and each time she and her children barely made it out alive; her husband was often indifferent or even hostile towards her, overlooked many of her and her daughters’ basic needs and even deserted her for half a year; for much of her life she did not have the beautiful assurance of her salvation.
And yet in all of this she remained strong, gracious, and committed to nurturing her children and pursuing a deeper understanding of Christ. The desperate situations in which she was often placed did not diminish her determination to live well and invest in raising her children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. As I closed this book for the last time I was inspired to be slower in defining any hardship as such and instead to invest my energies in gratitude, intentional parenting and a diligent pursuit of Christ.
At the same time that I was establishing a better acquaintance with Susanna Wesley I was also blessed with the opportunity to show hospitality to my parents. They came to support us in the transition from 4 children to 5 and went above and beyond to do just that. I anticipated their arrival and stay with a degree of reluctance. But it only took a short time to prove my reluctance unfounded. They poured themselves out for me and mine: cleaning and repairing the house, caring for our pets, preparing meals and spending hour after hour playing with and reading to our children. They sacrificed their time and energy so that I could have the gift of rest.
As I closed the front door after their departure the truth settled into my heart that intentional parenting is a lifetime commitment. Susanna Wesley corresponded fervently with her children in their adult years; she did not cease in her interest or involvement with their lives. And so has the role of my parents evolved. While they no longer need to train, discipline or provide for me, their presence and involvement in my life is just as crucial. They offer support, insights and encouragement that is unique to their position as parents and grandparents.
I was able to grasp these new discoveries because I took time to rest. The discipline of intentional rest for body and mind allows for restoration and enrichment that busyness neglects. This month our family is going to take life slower than usual and I will share my insights along the way.
What are your favorite ways to rest and relax?