When my cup feels empty and my reserves are running dry, sometimes the last thing I want to do is slow down.
I don’t want to slow down and look my Hard in the face.
I don’t want to see how weak and needy I might actually be.
I don’t want the reality of how deep my exhaustion runs.
I don’t want the reminder that I am human.
I’m much more comfortable pushing myself to do the next thing. I’d rather accomplish something else and feel better as I check another box.
As I was reading about Elijah this last week, I felt the Lord whisper to my heart as I read.
Elijah is doing some pretty brave things in these chapters. He’s the Lord’s representative to some intimidating individuals who want his head. He’s part of the Lord showing up through fire from heaven (whoa) and the defeat of false prophets. He prays and ends the country’s drought. Big, brave stuff.
And after all these tremendous victories, Jezebel wants to kill him and sends him a pretty nasty message telling him so. Elijah is overwhelmed and afraid. I’m sure he’s drained dry after doing these big, brave things, because he tells the Lord that he might as well die.
As I got to this point in the story, I felt the Lord ask me to pay attention. I felt myself sit up a little straighter to keep reading. I think I almost expected the Lord to speak to Elijah then. I’d heard the story before, yet I still expected some reminder of truth, some rebuke, at the very least, a kind chastisement. “Remember those miracles that JUST happened? Remember how brave you were? How can you want to die now? Buck up, buddy. Get your head in the game.”
But there was none of that.
Instead there were naps, water and cake (made by God!).
WHAT. My heart stopped a little. I read it twice, just to be sure. Nope, there wasn’t anything other than the Lord feeding this man and giving him sleep.
It was then that Jesus whispered to my heart that this is what he wanted me to see. He wanted me to see that he invites me to rest. Actual, real rest, that includes snacks and sleep. He invites me to something better than my exhaustion. He showed me that I sometimes bully myself when he just wants to feed me and give me a nap. And no, this isn’t figurative. As a friend once said to me, “sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”
And as I sat there, I thought about how tired I was, how empty I felt and how discouraged my heart was. I thought about the voice in my head and how I had made it out to be Jesus, but it really was just me. It was me pressuring myself to prove something. It was me bullying myself into bucking up. It was me not slowing down to receive the grace Jesus wanted to feed me. Literally.
I’ll be honest. It still feels like the last thing I want. I don’t want a nap and cake to be the answer. I want pushing through and pulling up my bootstraps to be the answer.
But that isn’t Jesus talking. His way isn’t the way of striving or proving, pushing or pulling. His way is kind and includes cake and naps (four in the last week, for me!)
I think that I sometimes confuse the ideas I have about being brave with what is truly brave. And I think what is truly brave is anything that makes me more human, more of who Jesus made me to be, more myself.
So instead of checking boxes and doing one more thing, I think being brave looks a lot kinder than I sometimes imagine it to be.
I think sometimes being brave means crying it out, admitting how overwhelmed you feel and going to bed early.
Being brave means untying your boots and handing your bootstraps to Jesus. They weren’t ever his idea anyway.
Being brave means being kind to yourself. I think it might be the only way we can be kind to others.
Being brave means shushing the bully in your head so you can hear Jesus inviting you to rest. Really rest. No metaphors. A real, actual nap.
Being brave means opening your hands to grace, especially in cake form.
Being brave means quieting the shame and putting away the to-do list.
Being brave means being human, even if that means you’re tired & hungry.
Being brave means saying yes to a nap and cake.