Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some Musings on Rest

For this post to make much sense, I need give you a little personal background. I have spent many years of my life known as the "high energy" person - not hyper but one who prefers to be busy doing and going. In my mid-20's, I was on a business trip and started feeling ill. I drove from Springfield, MO to Little Rock, AR (appx. 4 hours) straight to my doctor's office. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, ear infection and thyroiditis. The sinus and ear infections probably triggered the thyroid swelling and such. This is not uncommon and no one was initially worried. I will skip the long, involved details of the next 5 years. The end result was surgery to remove my thyroid which was covered in growths and all were cancerous. This was followed by weeks without any thyroid hormones whatsoever - either natural or manufactured - and then radioactive iodine to kill any rogue cancerous thyroid cells in my body; not fun at all. Now for the quick biology lesson, the thyroid controls an enormous amount of bodily functions and hormones. In fact, low thyroid hormone levels are a common cause of dementia, miscarriages and a host of other issues. If left untreated long enough, a person would die because the vital functions of the body would shut down. Over those long years, I gained an enormous amount of weight, was treated for clinical depression, slept countless hours, ached, ran fevers, visited many doctors and generally felt very lousy. The best way to explain the physical toll - if you have had a bad case of mono or been in the 1st trimester of pregnancy where you can hardly put one foot in front of the other, you are starting to get the idea of how this affected me. (I've since been pregnant twice and pregnancy was a piece of cake compared to this.)

Fast forward to present day and I'm now (cough, cough) forty-something. The vast majority of the time, I feel fine - as fine as any other mother with young ones. However, I still struggle with weight, depression and general lethargy sometimes. Part of this is due to the fact that my body can not on it's own regulate how much thyroid hormone is in my system at any given time. When I start feeling "off", it takes time to get back to normal. It takes time to see a doctor, get blood work results, change the dosage of medicine accordingly and then check again in 4 weeks to see how the levels are and if anything else needs to be adjusted. (Before you decide to dispense any nutrition, exercise or other such wisdom - please, don't. Thanks for love, though.)

What does all this have to do with rest? One of the great medical mysteries is exactly why living creatures require rest and sleep. There are many theories and research projects and so on but still no clear cut answers. Not only is it a physical requirement for life it is also Biblical. It's a command both in the Old and New Testaments. Since God created us, He must know best. 

Unfortunately, I prefer doing and going. Then halfway through my life, I was forced to rest in a way that I would not have believed until I lived it. To this day, I have to rest more than I really want to. In fact, these past couple of weeks have been those kind of weeks - needing lots of rest, overwhelming lethargy, slow mental function and on and on. You would think that I would be used to such spells after all these years and just go with it but nope, I still get frustrated and irritable and try to fight it. Recently, I was praying and asking God exactly why I have to rest. I have too much to do. Why didn't He just create all of us to go and go and go? We'd get so much more done for our families and for Him. Can you imagine the accomplishments? Then a thought occurred to me. If we had that kind of continual energy, we wouldn't feel our need for God. We would be even more arrogant than we already are - assuming that we can do it all without Him. I know that I would (and did) fall into this lie from Satan. Rest reminds me of my total dependence on God. God has taught me much through these times of rest despite my frustration with it all. 

So, rest is good. Rest is Biblical. Rest is healthy. I'm going to try to accept it; you should as well. So quit reading this and go rest.

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