Find Rest for Your Family
- 2009 26 Jan
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tim Kimmel's book, Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home, (Multnomah Books, 2008).
How fast is your family running through life? If you always seem to be in a hurry and struggling to keep up with your activities, it’s time to slow down. That’s easier said than done, though.
Real rest can only be found in Jesus, through the peace that He alone can give you and your family. Here’s how you can find the rest you need:
Diagnose the problems. Figure out what kind of hurriedness is afflicting your home. Is your family so busy that you all can’t relax? Are you uncomfortable with quiet? Are you seldom satisfied with what you have? Do you live according to shifting moral standards – sometimes going against your convictions when it’s more convenient to do so? Are you overworked and underappreciated? Do you worry about things you can’t control? Are you only happy when you’re successful according to how the world defines success? Do you often doubt God’s power, grace, or sufficiency? Are you discontent? Do you lack genuinely intimate relationships? Do you have a tendency to try to control your life?
Look internally, not externally. It’s unrealistic to expect that the external stresses in your life will just magically go away. But you can experience real rest inside your soul no matter what kind of stressful circumstances you’re going through in your life. Realize that rest is a choice make in any situation. Ask God to help you learn how to be calm even in the middle of a storm. Remember that He loves you, made you with a purpose, and guarantees you hope. Let those realities sink into your soul and give you peace.
Forgive. Your soul can’t truly rest until you forgive as God calls you to forgive. Take an inventory of the people in your life to determine who you may still need to forgive for hurting you in the past. Then rely on the help God promises to forgive each of them. Once you give others the gift of forgiveness, you get a valuable gift in return: rest for your soul.
Live within the limits. Choose to live within the limits of biblical standards that God has created for people’s protection from harm. The more you live by what the Bible says, the less you’ll struggle with fear and regrets, and the more rest you’ll enjoy. Whenever you experience guilt, consider honestly if it’s alerting you to sin in your life. If so, be quick to confess the sin and repent, turning away from the sin and toward God. Every day, do your best to align your actions with your beliefs. Make sure that what you say you believe is what you’re actually doing, consistently. Give every part of your life – your work, relationships, etc. – to God, without holding anything back. When every aspect of your lifestyle reflects faithful living, you can experience genuine rest.
Look at life with an eternal perspective. Ask God to give you His perspective on your life so you won’t waste time or energy on pursuits that don’t really matter. Recognize that people are more important than personal gain. Invest in relationships first and foremost, since love is eternal. Never sacrifice what’s permanent on the altar of what’s immediate. Don’t let each day’s urgent issues that come up distract you from pursuing what’s most important. Instead of fearing death, accept it as an inevitable part of your future, and prepare for it by making the most of every day God gives you on earth. Rather than trying to avoid aging, learn all you can as you grow more mature. Keep in mind that time will move forward quickly for you no matter how well you do or don’t use it. Every day, thank God for the gift of the time He has given you, and do your best to invest it well.
Serve while you’re suffering. Whenever you’re suffering in some way, your relief may come not from the problem suddenly disappearing, but from the strength you develop from serving in spite of it. Instead of just waiting for the problem to go away, decide to serve others while you’re dealing with the problem, and God will give you rest in the process. When you accept what you can’t change and choose to serve anyway, you’ll be transformed as you serve into a stronger and more peaceful person.
Manage your expectations well. Live to please God, not other people. The more you measure your significance by other people’s expectations of you or by how well you think you compare to their accomplishments and possessions, the less rest you’ll experience in your life. Discipline your desires by pursuing legitimate goals and making the most of your current circumstances. Ask God to help you develop priorities that will sustain you well and give you peace both now and in the future.
Steward your strengths well. Discover your God-given talents and spiritual gifts, develop them, and use them to the fullest. When you’re a good steward of the strengths God has given you, you’ll feel calm inside and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing well to the world. Read and study the Bible often so its principles will soak into your soul and you can consistently make the best choices about how to use your talents and gifts. Aim to use your time well, too, investing it generously into what has eternal significance.
Balance technology with the rest of your life. Use technology for your benefit rather than allowing it to overtake your life. Pray for the discernment to know when to check your e-mail or listen to your IPod, and when to log off and turn off so you can interact with other people face to face. Choose carefully which sites you visit on the Internet and which TV shows and other media you watch; make sure you only spend time on what’s worthwhile. Give yourself adequate time for quiet reflection each day.
Bring rest to your marriage. No matter what pressures or uncertainties you and your spouse are currently dealing with, you both can enjoy a restful relationship if you remained committed to each other’s needs and best interests regardless of the cost. Every day, pray for God to help you express unconditional love to each other. Learn how to use your differences to complement each other and enrich the life you share together.
Give your kids the gift of rest. You can pass on an heritage of rest to your kids if you make it a high priority to invest in their lives. Deliberately make choices every day to spend as much time as possible with your children. Be willing to make sacrifices in other areas of your life – like your career and volunteer work – in order to be there for your kids as often as you can. Do all you can to help meet their inner needs for secure love, significant purpose, and strong hope. Raise them in an environment designed to produce a sense of calm confidence that will prepare them well for adulthood. Give them rest for their bodies by making sure they eat a nutritious diet and get enough sleep every day. Give them rest for their emotions by giving them plenty of affection (meaningful touch and affirming words), teaching them to express their emotions in healthy ways, and helping them learn to base their decisions on unchanging biblical truth rather than on their changing emotions. Give them rest for their minds by helping them use their creativity to overcome restlessness and solve problems.
Instead of isolating your kids from exposure to different value systems, teach them the critical thinking skills they need to make their own decisions about values, which will ultimately help them make their faith their own. Give them spiritual rest by letting them know that they are deeply loved by a personal God. Help them rest in the eternal security found in a personal relationship with Jesus. Pray with them and for them, help them read the Bible, and participate in church together. Give them grace, just as God gives grace to you.
Bring rest to your work. Pray for the courage you need to reject the world’s view of success and focus on efforts that are significant from God’s perspective. Never pursue success as a goal in itself. Instead, expect it to come sometimes as a natural outcome from working hard and being fair. Ask God help you be satisfied with your current lifestyle instead of constantly trying to consume more, which will rob you of the rest that’s more valuable than anything you could buy. Live on a budget. Get out of debt and stay out. Observe a weekly Sabbath day of rest. If your current work schedule is too stressful, have the courage to cut back to find get the rest you need. Choose time over money when you have the choice to make.
Bring rest to your relationships. Healthy relationships will help give you a restful life. Surround yourself with good friends who will support you and hold you accountable. Aim to be the best friend you can be to others – someone who is loyal, honest, and sensitive. Find a good church – a place that focuses on Jesus, respects the Bible’s authority, helps people develop healthy family lives, and functions through the power of God’s grace.
Adapted from Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home, copyright 2008, 1994, and 1987 by Tim Kimmel, Ph.D. Published by Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., http://www.mpbooks.com/.
Dr. Tim Kimmel is the Executive Director of Family Matters® whose goal is to equip families for every age and stage of life. A national speaker with organizations that include Promise Keepers and Focus on the Family, Tim has shared his message with millions of people. He is the author of several books, including Raising Kids for True Greatness and Grace-Based Parenting. All together, there are more than 800,000 books in print. Tim and his wife live in Scottsdale, Arizona.