Touch, You & Your Family

Rest, rest, rest and rest

AFTER THREE ROAST TURKEYS and two major festivities to celebrate Christmas and New Year, I feel like one tired soul. This topic of tiredness was brought up to sharper focus when a client of mine recently shared his father’s observation of his colleagues after attending a Christian rally they organised. He commented on how tired they all looked.

There is nothing wrong with feeling tired after a hard day’s work. In fact, some of us experience a sense of satisfaction and even completion when we observe the product of our hard labour. But the message being communicated was that they were spent and exhausted.

As my client was relaying this account, he was experiencing burn-out. Although he is in a job that he is gifted for and was recognised as being good at his work, he was not enjoying it. Getting up and going to work had become a chore. He clearly needed rest but what type of rest?

The response from advertisements is if we work hard, we should (and even deserve) to play hard. Playing hard is being touted as the antidote to tiredness. Playing hard is helped by the consumption of alcohol or even paradoxically, to stress the body further by exercise. Playing hard is to go for an extended holiday and a good number of Singaporeans have recently returned from their much awaited and much deserved break. But how often have we heard people saying that they needed another holiday after this vacation.

Dr Tan Siang-Yang in his book titled simply, Rest*, proposed that there are four types of rest this weary world needs. There is the Physical Rest that if our bodies are deprived of will see us fatigued and exhausted. Failure to get enough of this can result in all forms of bodily ailments from insomnia to raised blood pressure. Then there is Emotional Rest.

When our feelings are constantly over-stimulated we may become irritable, short-tempered and depressed. The third is Spiritual Rest and may come as a consequence of deprivation of rest in the first two categories or as a result of straying away from God. Finally, Dr Tan proposed that the fourth type of rest is Relational Rest. We are all connected to a web of relationships, some of them, unfortunately, are destructive and conflict-laden in nature. Relational Rest speaks of the need to pull away from such people and to draw nearer to those who can serve as an oasis of calm.

Deprivation of these four types of rest can adversely affect both the body and the spirit. Whilst most of us focus on the Physical Rest, we often forget, to our detriment, the other three categories.

As we launch ourselves into this new decade, let us remember the need for and even the discipline of resting as instituted by God, who continues to encourage us to “Come to me, … and I will give you rest.” (Matt: 11: 28-30).

* Tan Siang-Yang, Rest. Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World (2000), Regent College Publishing

By Benny Bong