Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.(Psalm 116:7)
I write this from a loft in Somerset, New Jersey. I’m here playing Uber driver, concierge, and social director while my wife does some consulting work. Much of my day will be my own to do with as I choose. I’m already making lists of how many activities I can fit into a 24-hour day, leaving a little room to cram in sleep.
One of the marks of bipolar disorder is a sense of restlessness. Often, I struggle a great deal with this. I pace. I sit. Then I stand up almost at once. I toss and turn in bed. There seems to be no rest for my weary soul.
But the Psalmist here assures us that we can lay claim to a promised rest. It is our possession as we grow in our relationship with God. The Sabbath-rest God desires for us in this life, a rest that often escapes us, is fully realized at the end of our extended life journeys. We will then look back on all the LORD has done for us, grateful for the temporary rest we enjoyed, blessed by the eternal rest that lies before us.
Rest is such a cherished and crucial component to a quality life. Centuries ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The desperation has only gotten worse in time (and it’s no longer quiet). With technological advances, we try to maintain virtual connectedness throughout our days, all the while sacrificing sacred rest which is necessary to promote spiritual well-being and psychological sanity.
A person with bipolar can be particularly sensitive to the tyranny of urgency these days. The restlessness inside of us is often fueled by the recklessness around us. To maintain balance and continue to function in the world, we need to do more than just take medication. We need to establish “rhythms of rest” in our daily lives—nourished by prayer (not just worrying), reflection on God’s word (not just advice from others), and deep meditation (not just re-tweeting an appealing Twitter message).
So what am I going to do on this mini-Sabbatical? I have many options that in themselves could be very beneficial; but taken together they fuel a maniacal state which would be my undoing.
Sacred time is best spent doing the one most needful thing moment by moment. I pray for the discernment to know what this is and the quiet courage to carry it out.