Everyone tells you to rest after you have a baby – to let your body heal, to bond with your newborn, and so on. This is especially true after a c-section or a bad tear, since significant physical healing needs to take place and won’t be able to do so as effectively if you’re always pushing yourself to your limits.
But rest is much easier said than done.
I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s a wider cultural phenomenon, but I start to feel guilty and depressed when I just lie around all day, even when I know my body needs it. I see the boys running around and want to join them (despite the inconvenient fact that I can only walk at a slowish shuffle right now). I see the mess and disorganization from labor following hard upon the holiday chaos, and feel bad for not helping my husband sort through it all. Rest is hard. But my body needs it right now, for short-term and long-term reasons, and it would be foolish to deny myself that rest.
It has made me think about rest in everyday circumstances as well, though. I like to think I’m fairly good at giving myself opportunities to rest and relax – but really, most days the time I spend enjoying a good book or peaceful hobby is marred by the guilt of a hovering to-do list reminding me of all the things I should be doing instead. And a lot of time I get stuck in an indecisive limbo, neither resting well nor working well because I can’t do either without either guilt or exhaustion interfering.
Rest shouldn’t be a cause for guilt in any case, though! Even God Himself, who is outside time and has no need to rest, did so on the seventh day to mark that day as holy and to set an example for us in our rest and work. How much more, then, ought we to rest when we need it: to acknowledge the frailty of our bodies, minds, and spirits; to admit our lack of control over our lives; to be humble and small and at peace before God instead of continually striving to do everything in our own power.
So – I think I’m going to try to use this period of enforced rest as a training on how to rest intentionally and well, in hopes that it can carry over to normal life.