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At Lighthouse Family Retreat, we have four truths that guide our ministry to families living through childhood cancer: rest, joy, restoration, and hope. Leading up to our summer retreat season, we want to share the importance each of these plays in our lives, and how to overcome the obstacles and challenges to embracing them. Today on the blog, we’re kicking it off with Rest.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

~Matthew 11:28

Rest is such a hard thing to come by in our culture under normal circumstances. However, when you throw a cancer treatment regimen into the mix, finding rest can feel impossible. Often when we think of rest, we think of physical rest. We all know our bodies need rest. Without it, our bodies give way to exhaustion. But we also need emotional and spiritual rest. Our bodies, minds, and souls aren’t meant to run at full capacity all the time.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to rest is the belief of self-sufficiency. That is, believing we are supposed to do everything ourselves—or even believing we can. The truth is none of us are self-sufficient, and we aren’t meant to be. We were created to live in community with God, looking to Him to ultimately meet our needs. We were also created to live in community with one another, sharing our burdens.

When we encounter challenges, our human nature can quickly turn inward, and we become skeptical of anything outside of our control because it may be a threat…including God. Often, we can’t get the rest we desperately need because we lose trust in the One who offers it. It is much easier for us to do something than to trust in God. This is why Jesus invites us to return to Him saying, “Come to Me—trust Me again—and I will give you rest.”

Another related obstacle to getting rest is guilt. There is so much to do, and there are so many needs to be met. Even when we know we are in desperate need for rest, we don’t take it because it can feel selfish. But, once again, this reveals the lack of trust we have that God loves and cares for those around us as much as we do. And, so again, we need to hear the invitation of Jesus, “Come to me…”

One of the greatest gifts of a Lighthouse retreat is the opportunity to step outside of the chaos of the daily grind of life and the additional burden of cancer treatment. Retreats provide the opportunity to catch your breath, to pause, and to find rest. And, on retreat, you get to benefit from the service of others. Friends and strangers who offer to carry some of the load by preparing and serving meals, watching the kids for a bit, cleaning, praying for you, and hearing your story.

While we can’t always be on retreat, there are opportunities for rest at home. Sometimes we just need someone to give us permission to rest. Jesus not only gives us permission to rest but, in recognizing our need for it, invites us to rest. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, it can be the most selfless thing you do. Getting rest helps to make sure you are healthy, so you can continue to be a caregiver.

Rest doesn’t necessarily mean twelve hours of sleep. Rest can come in ten-minute physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual breaks. Rest and relief can come from simply rejecting the lie that you are self-sufficient and confessing to yourself and others, I can’t do it all. Rest might mean a ten-minute walk, reading, a game with the family, or any other activity that allows you to take a break from the everyday to-do list. And, yes, sometimes you just need a nap.

If rest is a challenge for you too, take a few minutes to reflect on these questions to help you start making space for rest in your life:

  1. Why is rest important for me (and my family)?

  2. What areas of my life am I finding it difficult to trust?

  3. Where can I prioritize rest in my life this week?

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