At times my mind can be a washing machine, tumbling and tossing the requests and information that hit me from every direction. Many people I know feel the same way—overwhelmed by the onslaught of knowledge and to-dos that accompany the always-on smartphone era.
The situation is not different for most students these days, with high expectations in the classroom, fewer opportunities to unwind, busy social calendars, and a seemingly limitless supply of extracurricular activities. That’s unfortunate, because research shows that time off-task is important for proper brain function and health. Our students need rest!
Many of us are culturally conditioned to think of time off-task as “wasted” and a sign of inefficiency or laziness. But our students can benefit from recognizing how downtime can help. In addition to giving the brain an opportunity to make sense of what it has just learned, shifting off-task can help students refresh their minds when frustrated so they can return to a problem and focus better. What would it look like to help our students find time where they can rest and be themselves in Christ without the stress and anxiety from the constant noise around them?
God is serious about rest because resting requires us to trust in Him. When we stop working or striving, we give up control over the outcome of our efforts. Rest does not come naturally to us, which is why we are reminded so many times in the Scriptures of the necessity of laying down our work. When we are overworked we are more vulnerable to disobeying God. Hebrews 4:11 invites us "strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." The definition of "rest" applies to our spirits as well. God longs to refresh our spirits and renew our strength. Similarly, we obey God when we release anxiety and tension from our lives and trust that He will take care of us. This is the message that we are telling our students. In the busyness of life, they need to be able to seek after rest in Christ and be able to surrender all their tasks to Him. Jesus offers all of us a rest that the world cannot. In Christ, we can relax our souls in the midst of the sorrows, pains, perfectionism, and trials that we will experience in the world. However, for students to be taught this is one thing, they also need to be allowed to rest. Our students are fearful of taking rest because of the pressures from all around including family expectations.
With so much to do and so little learning time in a school year—fitting in downtime is easier said than done. Offering more downtime in moment-sized bites might be just the thing for keeping our students on schedule and giving their minds and souls that little bit of freedom to turn off for just a minute to see the bigger picture that Christ has for them.
"What would it look like to help our students find time where they can rest and be themselves in Christ without the stress and anxiety from the constant noise around them?"
The definition of "rest" applies to our spirits as well. God longs to refresh our spirits and renew our strength. Similarly, we obey God when we release anxiety and tension from our lives and trust that He will take care of us."