I’m No Longer A Slave To My Schedule

And you can be free, too!

Today’s guest post is brought to us by Jerusha Clark. Jerusha is an author, speaker, wife, and mom.  Her newest book Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017) is a book that reminds us that God never meant for us to focus on whether we are “enough” or whether we measure up. He made us–every piece of us–to be just as He is.  She calls us to an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, busyness, and toxic thoughts that steal our joy and limit our power.

I’m giving away one copy of her book today. To enter to win, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

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It would be hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened.  Maybe when my kids started school and an invisible hand seemed to press the fast forward button on my life.  But that was over a decade ago.  My kids are teens now.  Shouldn’t I have figured out how to answer the question, “How are you?” with something other than “Crazy!” “Busy!” or “You know…just tryin’ to keep up?!”

At some juncture, most of my mommy friends went from answering cordial, “How’s it going” queries with a polite form of “I’m fine, thank you,” to using the opportunity to bemoan how busy our lives had gotten.  No matter where I was—at the pick up line at school, waiting for gymnastics practice to end, checking out at Target—I couldn’t get away from one thing: the ever present, ever pressing weight of my own schedule.  Can I get an amen from any other mamas out there?!

For a while, I honestly believed it when I told friends and family, “Things will quiet down after ________” (insert here any number of possibilities, including “the holidays are over,” “competition season ends,” “I finish this book,” etc.)  But nothing ever changed.  And it finally occurred to me:  I’m supposedly the master of my own schedule, but I’m actually a slave.

This did not sit well with me.  And if you’re even the teensiest bit like me, it shouldn’t sit well with you, either.

Enter one amazing friend and one life-changing conversation. 

Michelle told me about a book she was reading.  At first I listened with mild interest.  A book on rest.  How nice.  Then the spinning world of my own scheduling came to a screeching halt with these words:  “Jerusha, I had the biggest ‘aha’ when I read this: ‘Slaves don’t rest. Slaves can’t rest. Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of liberty.”

Uhhh…

Rest is a condition of liberty.  Rest and freedom are inseparable.  If you can’t rest, you’re a slave to something.  Christ died so that you and I don’t have to keep going, going, going until we keel over.  And long before that, our loving Heavenly Father perfectly modeled the balance of fulfilling work and embracing rest when he made the world and took a Sabbath to enjoy it: For in six days, the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, but He rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and He made it holy (Exodus 20:11).

 Bottom line, I had scheduled myself out of rest.  Sure, I knew how to binge watch Netflix to “detox” from a tough week.  But I never really felt rested after that.  Okay, so I knew how to plan an amazing getaway or vacation.  But I often returned home in need of a vacation from all the craziness of adventuring.  Essentially, even though I knew how to be entertained, I didn’t know how to rest.  Maybe, like me, you’re better at being entertained or zoning out than actually resting.

But that all changed for me after that conversation with Michelle.  I began studying the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus.  As a good Christian girl, these claims—e.g. “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,”—were tucked away in my spiritual subconscious, but I’ll be honest: they weren’t really manifest in my daily life.  Looking intently at Jesus as the Good Shepherd helped me to break free of slavery to my schedule.  The girl who couldn’t stop began practicing Sabbath.

I know, I know.  That sounds so Old Testament.  But, sweet friend, I wish you could have journeyed with me as I learned to rest without simply looking to “escape,” as I discovered the joy of tech-free and noise-free moments, as I unwound the tension of my overscheduled mind and heart and found freedom to savor the world God created: good food made and eaten slowly, leisurely love-making, long, unhurried walks that weren’t about getting my sweat on, but just about enjoying.  Um, why had I waited so long to embrace this?

Because I didn’t believe that I could get everything done in six days.  Deep down, I worried that something would fall apart if I didn’t keep juggling seven days a week.  I fretted about saying no to people—including my kids—who didn’t really understand why mom I started saying strange and mysterious things like, “No, I’m not going to drive you to the mall today; that’s the opposite of rest for me.”  I even worried that I’d miss out on something really good because I was “resting” (which, back then, kinda sounded like a punishment).

Perhaps, in reading that last paragraph, you caught on quicker than I did; maybe you realized it was fear that kept me a slave to my schedule.  Fear of not getting enough done.  Fear of disappointing people.  Fear of missing out.  Fear, even, that rest (and especially Sabbath rest) would be boring.

But I don’t want to be a slave to my schedule.  And I most certainly don’t want to be a slave to fear.  So I started small, trying to take a couple hours to rest.

And it was challenging.  I felt so restless trying to rest.  I didn’t like saying no to things.   I’m one of those “activity makes me happy” kind of girls.  Slow is not my style.  But, interestingly enough, I learned rest didn’t have to be slow.  It was so full.  So freeing.  I felt expanded, not held back.

I’ve discovered that living beyond my limits leads to perpetual exhaustion, not a better life.  Living with limits—the limits of rest that I chose (and keep choosing!) to embrace leads to what Jesus described in various renderings of John 10:10 as “abundant life,” a “rich and satisfying life,” “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

More and better life than you’ve ever dreamed of.  If you’re ready, join me in embracing rest.  Don’t be afraid.  If God can literally create the entire world in six days, don’t you think he can manage your stuff in six days?    

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Jill’s note:

This has been a place God has really been growing me. If you follow me on social media like Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen more sunsets, pics on the beach, and time with friends and family. That’s because I’m intentionally balancing out my work with rest. I’m slowing down and savoring, refusing to be a slave to my “to do” list.

You can find practical ways to start embracing rest in “The Unforced Rhythms of Grace,” Chapter Seven of Jerusha’s new book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

For a chance to win a copy of Every Piece of Me, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

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56 thoughts on “I’m No Longer A Slave To My Schedule

  1. “Rest is a condition of liberty.” I’ve never really thought about it this way. Great post on how was can escape the crazy and embrace His restoring gift of rest. I’d love to read the book!

  2. Rest is something God’s been dealing with me lately. It’s hard to stop letting my calendar dictate my peace. Just like you said, Jill, it’s about balancing rest and my to-do list. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That you need to slow down and try and enjoy life and at least take one day to rest and relax and enjoy yourself. Not have gear that it won’t get done

  4. I need to read this over a few more times, because though I don’t want to be a slave any more and everything I read makes perfect sense, I look at my to do and week and I can’t possible apply a Sabbath. I’d like to set the intention to figure this out before Advent. I havent let myself use the word “busy” for over a year now, but it hasn’t changed my slave status. Slave, what a profound concept. Thank you, lots to chew on.

  5. Fear! I never thought about fear holding me back from rest. So true, but thankfully that is something I can conquer. Would love to read this book. I need rest

  6. I have one child in college and one in high school. Both can drive. I have more time for rest now. It is easier!
    For the sake and health of our children, we need to learn this when they are young. They need to see us not being slaves, that rest is required!
    Thank you for the reminder!

  7. Learning to rest needs to be intentional and takes practice.
    Thank you for your message today; it is a reminder that I needed. It is also important that we model this for our children so they learn to truly understand the importance of rest.

  8. Wait, Netflix binging isn’t rest?! Jerusha makes a very good point when comparing entertaining ourselves to actually resting. She is so right! I also love what she says about fear, I had never realized that could be the problem!

  9. I learned rest didn’t have to be slow. It was so full. So freeing. I felt expanded, not held back. – This is what stood out most to me. Rest is something that fills and recharges you, not just sitting around doing nothing. Beautiful!

  10. My word for the past 2 years has been REST. I still have not successfully tackled that challenge. I experience guilt when I carve out time for myself when my hubby is working late into the night and rises early to ‘keep up’ with deadlines. I understand the Lord wants me to take time to Breathe and Bask in His Presence. He has a peaceful state He wants me to savor and enjoy…to maintain. He went away from the hurried pace of life to simply BE STILL. I realize I am no longer a slave to my schedule IF I CAN MAKE TIME TO UNPLUG AND BE STILL …and like a child,I can also hear HIM better when I am focused and quiet. I have total control to make the right decision, hour by hour…daily!

  11. I felt so restless trying to rest, this statement is the one that most resonates with me. Five years ago I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Anxiety like I’ve never experienced was a huge symptom, at the same time fatigue. While I’m much better now, It’s been a journey for me but through it all God is allowing me to learn so much and resting, truly resting in Him has become something I’m having to learn. Why isn’t rest easy? It doesn’t make sense why running physically and mentally seems to come natural but rest takes intense focus.

  12. The thought that fear is a controlling factor that keeps us from true rest struck home with me. That, coupled with guilt for not getting “everything” done, and my full on tendency toward perfectionism leave me restless, even when “resting.”

  13. For years, I refused to rest. I was afraid I would miss an opportunity to “do this” with friends, or be involved “in that” for my church or my family. It took a serious illness of one of my children a decade ago to drop everything and just focus on what’s important. Then, all of a sudden, I craved rest because life got too big and too scary for me. Since that time, God graciously healed my child, and I am more mindful of rest, but I still have a long way to go to intentionally work REST into my life. I still struggle with resting in God when I’m fearful or anxious. I desire joy, but it often eludes me. This is the “thorn in my flesh” that Paul wrote about, so this book is very intriguing to me. Thank you for your ministry!

  14. My take away is, it’s okay to say “sorry I don’t feel like driving you there.” I’m the only driver in our household and feel like a chafeur most days.

  15. I too have fallen into the I’m too busy trap! I have a lot to learn about balancing my life. I look forward to reading this book.

  16. I liked the comment that said If God can get all of his work done in 6days he can take care of yours in that time too. Sounds like a much needed idea .

  17. So on point for me right now. I have gotten better about taking time for myself, but it is more escape than rest. I am a recovering perfectionist mom of 3 kids about to be an empty-nester who is struggling with my purpose right now. I still have plenty to do, I always have an impossible to do list, but it doesn’t always feel fulfilling. Thank you for the revelations. I will be thinking about them a lot.

  18. This is the hamster wheel I’m on! I try to rest, say no,be with my girls and hubby, then I get all anxious when everything on my to do list is uncheckable. Can’t seem to figure things out…but alas I’m remembering I’m not schedules in rest and work time I’m just flying off the seat of my pants which doesn’t work well for me…this book sounds like it needs to be on my read list! Thanks for the post today much needed.

  19. God is working on me in this area, too. I am such a slave to worrying about what others think of me. I am tired of it, and I know God wants more for me. Every day I spend some time talking with Jesus about trusting Him and leaning on Him throughout the day. He is growing me!

  20. Wow! I really can identify with Jerusha’s state of unending busyness. I can’t count how many times I’ve answered the question, “How are you?” With the word “Busy!” And her fears that rest would cause her to miss out, let people down or not allow her to get it all done are something I really relate to as well. I don’t want to be a slave to my schedule so this is a well-needed wake up call that I need to embrace rest in my life.

  21. Rest is not the same as entertainment. True, but not something I had really considered. This makes me realize that I too often substitute real rest with “relaxing” entertainment.

  22. “Rest is a condition of liberty. Rest and freedom are inseparable. If you can’t rest, you’re a slave to something.”
    The Lord has really been showing me this over the past several weeks. I’m praying now through what needs to stay and what needs to go in my schedule. I have loved reading this post because she has perfectly said what I’ve been feeling needs to change in my life.

  23. This really hits home as I sit at work, afraid to stay home and rest, afraid my students will suffer, even though I have been sick and had a fever last night. I have really been working on resting and trying to minimize kids’ activities for the last month, but have not been very successful.

  24. These words “Fear of not getting enough done. Fear of disappointing people. Fear of missing out. Fear, even, that rest (and especially Sabbath rest) would be boring.” struck a chord with me. I am thankful for my husband who reminds me with the importance of rest. Now I need to take it a step further and remind myself! Thank you Jerusha for your words (and book) and thank you Jill for this post! Much needed 🙂

  25. This is what I’ve needed to hear. ‘Rest is a condition of liberty.’ I tend to say No many times but I also find myself saying Yes and then back out because life is too much and I can’t handle the extra activities that take me away from the comfort of my home and our family. I loved this also: “Christ died so that you and I don’t have to keep going, going, going until we keel over.” Very powerful for us mamas who strive for this made up and unrealistic notion of perfection!

  26. I’m better at being entertained or zoning out than resting (enter Facebook). I also have the fear of missing out, which leads me to saying “yes” more often than I should.

  27. I’m one of those “activity makes me happy” kind of girls too!! We dont know how to rest and have never been taught! What a great lesson to obey the Sabbath and let HIM fill up my tank! A great reminder to keep striving towards; and the awesome power to say No to things.

  28. “it was fear that kept me a slave to my schedule. Fear of not getting enough done. Fear of disappointing people.” My mind can spin with the busyness and I realize a lot of why it spins is fear that I am going to forget something and let someone down. Thanks for this reminder today that God offers true rest.

  29. The fear of missing out!! Definitely a slave to my to-dos. I want to simplify life and have rest and freedom for myself and my family. Putting this book on my list to read!

  30. YES, YES, YES!! All of it! It is so what I need to hear in this season of life. And the word “fear” really hit home with me. I am a “busy girl” like the author. I fear saying “no”, missing out, fear making someone upset with me if I don’t volunteer for everything…This book sounds amazing! I am so excited about it!

  31. Thanks for the post, Jill! My spirit stopped when I read, “God never meant for us to focus on whether we are “enough” or whether we measure up. He made us–every piece of us–to be just as He is….to an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, busyness, and toxic thoughts that steal our joy and limit our power.” So glad to hear that today!

  32. Would love to win this book! Being a slave to my schedule spoke to me. Our family feels like we are countering the culture consistently. Specifically, we are working on trading in extracurriculars for more connection as a family.

  33. WOW- I need to read the entire book. as mom of 3 boys and wife- I have been pulled in all directions in the last 6 months but I feel like a slacker if I don’t get everything done. Rest- what is that? And yes I know that I fear a lot of things. I’ve never seen it as slavery-hmmm

  34. Just reading this gave me peace. As a mom of 7 children, I needed to see this today 🙂 It’s all a takeaway for me. Finding balance. Great post!

  35. “Living beyond my limits leads to perpetual exhaustion.” I have to keep teaching myself this. I have a wonderful husband and 5 fabulous children. I also have fibromyalgia. It is a blessing, in a way, because I MUST slow down to take care of self. Yet it is so easy to overdo!

  36. Wow! This was SO good!!! I practiced having a sabbath day of rest in college when a friend challenged me to do it for one semester and see if I could still get all my schoolwork done. It was the most amazing semester! I totally got all my work done and had amazing rest & relaxation each week. Reading this today was a good reminder that Gods ways are the best and that when He gives us limits it will always be a blessing in our lives. Thank you for this post! 💗

  37. Like the author, I feel like I will miss out if I choose rest (and say no to other things). But this article makes me think what am I missing because I did not choose rest?

  38. I’m growing in this idea that rest is not earned or rewarded. It is something that should be natural and added to our lives every day.

    All of these things to do, and lists we so love to cross off, are merely distractions from God.

    Living our lives the way we are serving others, teaching what we know, and always knowing it’s okay to sit in silence or prayer – this is how we are meant to be.

    I am going to read this book, it sounds amazing. Thank you. 😊

  39. ” living beyond my limits leads to perpetual exhaustion” I need to hear this Every Day! I have perfected pushing my limits, and everyone suffers because of it. I am exhausted and anxious; My kids are an afterthought at times; Housework piles up and bills get paid late because I am always on the run. This is no way to live, and I know it! Finding rest in the Lord sounds to good to be true, so I resist it. Being still on the Sabbath guilt’s me into feeling lazy. As I work on removing the thoughts of the enemy, which takes conscious effort, I begin to believe life can be better. I believe there can be peace, and rest. Slowing down is a daily task, and by the grace of God, I will one day embrace rest as a place where I belong.

  40. Take away: Embrace rest, set limits to savor the world God created in order to have what John 10:10 refers…to have an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, BUSYNESS, & TOXIC THOUGHTS (guilt), that steal our joy and limit our power…I SURRENDER IT ALL…I love the song “Old Church Choir” when it says, “There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy!”

  41. Too late to win, but wanted to comment anyway. I am free… I pray that I learn to shout that from the mountaintops. I do not want to be enslaved by busyness!

  42. “Fear kept me a slave to my schedule.” That’s something that I want to think more about. What am I afraid of that keeps me from resting? I would love to read this book and figure that out!

  43. I literally have had conversations the last couple days with my husband and close friends that I’m struggling with these things-negative self-talk, self-worth, and anxiousness. This book sounds like just what I need.

  44. I am a slave. A slave to others’ expectations. I’m a people pleaser.
    I say YES when my worn out 61 year old body is begging for peace and rest.
    I’m a tired mother of three. Two adult children and one who will start college
    next fall. Being a good wife and mother have always been high on my to do list. I didn’t want to disappoint God or humans. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, my world turned upside down. Praise God, I’m now cancer free. I had to retire early from teaching high school.
    In retrospect, God had a new plan for my life. I now volunteer at a nearby cancer center where God is using me to serve and encourage others going through cancer treatments. But I have never been freed from the to do lists
    Prison. I still feel guilt when I try to say no. I want to learn how to rest in God. How to let go of those things that are not really important or necessary.
    Reading this blog has absolutely
    Encouraged me to change my view of the importance of not just physical rest but also of spiritual rest in Jesus.
    Thank you. My chains have been rattled, and I can see hope to have liberty in Christ.

  45. “If you can’t rest you’re a slave to something.”

    Sounds like a great book and I have thought this many times….why do we always say we’re so busy.

    Thanks!

  46. This has been my new journey in life…REST! Not just an afternoon nap or vegging in front of Netflix with a pizza. Real rest, refreshing, invigorating, quiet, slow rest. God had been calling me to do so for quite some time, and I didn’t listen, but rather, considered the idea as a plan for the future. So, it got forced on me, and I admittedly wrestled with it for quite some time. Staying busy kept me from having to really, truly deal with life, and ALL that came with it. I was a YES girl, to everything, all the time. I thrived on chaos and exhaustion.
    Now, living in a little farmhouse in the country, fat from the life we used to love, I’m having to relearn how to life from a position of rest, rest in the LORD. I’m learning to live with my emotions, my baggage, and my junk. God is slowly helping me sort it all out.
    This book sounds like a wonderful way to continue to explore this new life of mine, and this ever so foreign concept of REST.

  47. Being a slave to a schedule, out of fear and obligation. A daily struggle to me and by reading this, a different perspective.

    I am a slave to not only my schedule, but everybody else’s schedule too. One car+my job+husbands job+son in preschool=exceeded exhaustion and never ending chores as there’s limited time.
    I’ve attempted a “rest day” but with dishes by the sink, a floor that needs swept, laundry baskets full of clothes, dinner needing to be prepped; it’s so hard to rest. I tell myself, after all this is clean – I’ll be able to rest! Then hours pass by and then it’s time to pick up my husband, start dinner, bath and bed for my son then I finally get to sit down with my husband and watch tv and I look at the clock and it’s 10pm or later.

    Our schedule isn’t just something I can say no to, I have to be at work, he has to be at work, my son has to be taken to the bus stop and picked up so I spend my breaks at work getting him, picking up/dropping off husband at work, then I finally get to work and eat the snacks I have stashed for lunch. Although I know some things I just can’t say no to, there’s way to accept our schedules and then there’s way to rest. Date nights have come to a halt, activities at the beach, walks, bikes rides has been far and few as our schedules clash, it’s too late or there’s no time.
    This article helped in pinpointing direct and deep feelings I have and to know I am not alone and it can be done.