Staff Editorial: learning to breathe throughout the semester

As Missions Conference approaches, it can be easy to focus only on a much-needed break.

Cameron+Gardiner+writes+about+how+rest+can+be+used+as+a+time+of+worship.+%7C+Illustration+by+Jessica+Lindner%2FTHE+CHIMES

Cameron Gardiner writes about how rest can be used as a time of worship. | Illustration by Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Chimes Staff, Writer

Cameron Gardiner writes about how rest can be used as a time of worship. | Illustration by Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES [file photo]
 

It sometimes feels convenient to add a yawn or two in our conversations with others, just to get the point across that we’ve just pulled our first all-nighter of the semester. We apologize and say, “Sorry, this week is just so busy.” We’ve all done it. We have all felt a sense of validation or approval when we get to pull out our iCal schedule to show proof of our busy lives.

There is a sense of satisfaction we feel while we complain about our busyness to others. It is as if our productivity level is tied to our value. The more busy we are, the more worth we have, the more the world needs us. We know deep down that our productivity isn’t where our worth should come from, but we end up getting caught up in the current of the college life and forgetting to slow down and remember what it’s all for.

Breathing techniques and racing

We often attempt to cure our busy schedules with constant daydreams about our next break, such as Missions Conference or spring break. Our tendency is to focus on our next break as an anticipated respite from our daily grind. We tell ourselves we’ll just sprint to the finish, breathe for the 5-day weekend, then start sprinting again. But we have to learn how to pace ourselves.

We need to learn the breathing techniques for the race itself. Because, let’s be honest, the race never really ends. When was the last time you slowed down in the midst of a busy week, even while you had important things to do?

The “short sprints” mentality is dangerous because it prevents us from appreciating where we are. If we spent as much time laying our burdens before God as we did daydreaming about our next break or vacation, imagine the peace we would experience! Christ instructs us to lift up our anxieties in petition to him, and he promises us rest; perhaps we should take him at his word. If we do this instead of waiting for the next break, we can enjoy the remainder of the semester with a God-given peace.

It seems counterintuitive in this productivity-centered culture to carve out time to rest during the day. When we have a 10-page paper due on Thursday, an 8-hour shift on Friday and a midterm on Monday, it can be extremely difficult to use any of our precious time to give undivided attention to God through prayer or reading the Bible. Maybe putting “Quiet Time” on our to-do list would do the trick. But we would have to believe it was worth it to give it such a sacred space. Or maybe we should just remember that Jesus himself often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. If the Son of God found this valuable, then as Christ followers we should too.

Value in breaks and casting off anxiety

Solitude has a way of renewing our sense of purpose, and reminding us that our worth can be found in the moments of doing absolutely nothing except resting in the presence of God. We can then carry this sense of being loved, and knowing we’re here for God’s glory and not our own, to take on each day with peace and trust in Him and not ourselves or our completed to-do list.

While it is important to remember that we enjoy the “now” and pace ourselves, there is still value in simply taking a break from school and work centered activities. It is healthy and encouraged to take a break when we find ourselves overwhelmed. Stepping back from the stress of everyday life and responsibilities often helps us refocus on the bigger picture. It can be helpful when opportunities to take a breather from classes roll around, and it can even serve as the extra “push” we may need. However, while there is merit in breaks, we need to remember not to focus too much on anticipating them. We should take advantage of the blessings God gives us amid the busyness, and lay our burdens before him — even when we don’t have time to slow down.

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