I watched a lot of TV this week. A lot. I was feeling the toll that the onset of winter weather twenty-four hours after summer weather was taking upon my mind and body. I was exhausted and tired and desperately needed rest. One night after another, I collapsed in my chair, turned on the heating pad, and stared mindlessly while episode after episode of the latest TV drama played out on screen. It required no effort from me whatsoever.
This is unfortunately my go-to activity when I have no activity left in me. I am not generally a big TV watcher. I don’t turn it on during the day despite my work-from-home status, mostly because I am guessing that I would watch it more than work. I do, oddly enough, turn it on when I am sleeping with no sound like an overgrown nightlight. It just has never been a regular event for me unless I am watching a movie with the family.
But in those moments when I cannot take much more of that day, when my brain is overwhelmed and overworked, when illness or injury or insensibility takes over, I retreat to the screens. I imagine because it requires so little of me and in those moments I have so little to give.
But that is okay because everyone needs a break, right? We can’t be productive all the time. Right? So, what is the harm in a little downtime in front of a screen?
Speaking only for myself—a lot. Because while it is a moment that I don’t have to think about much and my brain gets a break, it also does not do anything to reverse that situation. When I am done staring at the screen, I am still tired, still worn out, and still in search of something to make it better. I could even argue that hours with a screen randomly scrolling or flipping through the thousands of streaming choices while staring numbly into the magic box might be making me feel worse.
Why is that? Why do hours of “rest” not make me feel very rested?
I think it is because there is no restoration.
We were created for transformation and renewal. Even the Bible says we must take time to restore our souls, or we won’t be very effective in helping others. It is not selfish to take time to restore your spirit although sometimes it feels that way. Let’s face it, this world is no garden of Eden, and we are bombarded every day with things that are hard and things that wear us out.
The struggles and pressures and arguments and disappointments and heartaches are overwhelming. It is no surprise to God that we are looking for ways to ease that pain. That is a desire we all share. A desire for things to be better. A desire for comfort and consolation. For me, it is screens and sugar. For others, it may be drinking, overeating, pills, destructive relationships, or overworking.
You don’t have to say it out loud, but I guarantee whether you follow through with it or not, we are all drawn to something to drown, hide, avoid, escape, and ignore the pain this world brings. Something that requires nothing of us. But in our efforts to overcome the situation quickly, we tend to aim for things that give us no replacement for the energy lost and possibly even end up leaving us feeling worse. Just like a home that was once loved and cared for but is now falling into disrepair, we need to be restored. Just leaving things the way they are when we are worn is not enough. We need something more.
Okay, I hear you—those things take work and the last thing you want to do is more work when you are already tired. I get it. But I think the reward is worth the effort. I already know that I feel better when I jump into something that brings my soul real rest. I just have to somehow remind myself of that because starting is just plain hard to do.
Look at that neglected house again, it took work to restore it, but the reward after restoration is brilliant. The house can be a home again, bring joy again, hold up those within it, and bring a place of comfort to weary souls. I can do that too. You can do that too. But first, we must be restored. That house did not get restored while people were just sitting around staring at a screen or busy being distracted instead of resuscitated.
Think about the times that you took that extra step to rest in a way that restored you. Maybe you needed real sleep. Maybe you needed laughter with a friend. Maybe you needed to create, explore, journey, or learn. How did you feel when you were done?
For me, what brings me back to life is writing, drawing, and reading. Conversations with others and with God. Studying history and scripture. Learning new things about places and people, journaling, singing, dancing, and walking outside. Sitting by water and listening to the sound of the waves upon the shore thankful that a God that could create the oceans created me. These are the things that leave me restored. They renew me and prepare me for another day and another battle as I push through hard things. It might feel like hard work at first, but soon you will find yourself caught up in the joy of it. You just have to start.
So, tell me, what restores your house? What restores your heart? What things rebuild your spirit and what things just leave you as you are?
I am writing this more to myself as a reminder than to you as a suggestion. It is so easy for me to forget that the world wears this house down over and over which means I have to restore it over and over. It is not a one-time thing. I am going to have to aim for being restored. I won’t be perfect at it. Some days I will reach for that remote. But I am going to try and remember how I feel when I take that one extra step toward restoration. Maybe my words today can help you do the same. Let’s bring some life back into this place.