On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:2-3
One of the secrets to avoiding homeschool burn-out in my kids is letting them “rest.” Timely and purposeful rest is not unproductive time, it is restorative. Even God in all his omnipotence knew that rest was important. And if you really think about it, when God had “finished his work of creation,” it was just the beginning of life on planet earth. He exemplified what it means to pause, reflect, and enjoy a break in between work. In fact, he called it holy! I love that!
Perhaps a story will help illustrate how rest can be holy. Yesterday, one of my sons said, “I don’t want to do my work anymore.” He was serious, upset, and frustrated because he struggled through writing a letter and couldn’t quite draw the process for fern reproduction for his botany. The irony is he had just memorized a bible verse about having a cheerful, joyful heart but he was showing signs of “burn-out” — irritation and inability to focus and enjoy his tasks.
My first carnal instinct was to correct the emotion and react to him. But, I paused, re-thought my approach and calmly said, “Why don’t you take a break, think about it, and pray first.” I asked him to sit on a couch away from his homeschool work to do this. A few minutes later, he said, “I don’t know what to pray.” Again, I was tempted to be harsh, but I decided to turn on some fun music, hug and dance with him. A small smile began to form on his face, but he still was feeling down. So, we sat down on the seat together and I said, “I’m concerned about you, hon. It’s not the work. I’m concerned about what’s going on inside your heart. Instead of practicing the meaning of having a cheerful heart, you seem to be angry and upset. Can you tell me why?” He proceeded to explain that he felt that his work was hard, that he couldn’t do it, and didn’t want to do it. After years of teaching this son of mine I know what he is capable of and what is asking too much. This was not one of those times when I was giving him impossible work. In response, I said something like this, “Hon, I hope you understand that one of mommy’s jobs is to train you. Hard work is something we all have to learn. How will you grow as a person if everything is always easy. It’s normal not to like something that is hard to do. Mommy feels that way, too. Homeschooling is not easy. Sometimes I feel tired and don’t feel like doing it so I understand how you are feeling.” It wasn’t the best pep talk on hard work and tears were streaming down my son’s cheeks. I prayed with him and then I also encouraged him to ask for forgiveness from the Lord for being angry. He did this but afterwards, he still wasn’t ready to return to his unfinished work.
At this point, I left him with this challenge, “I know you are going to make the right decision and God is going to speak to you. So why don’t you go to the other room, lie down on the bed, take time to pray some more and you will decide whether you will come back and do the rest of your Science.” It was a risk to leave him this option, but I knew that pushing him was not going to inspire in him the desire to do anything. I trusted that God would also speak to his heart and my son knew that I was willing to believe the best in him.
Ten minutes later, he walked back into the study room and his countenance was different. He didn’t have a huge smile pasted on his face but I could sense that his spirit had changed. “Well?” I asked half-smiling and in a non-threatening way. “You know the answer,” he said. “I do?” I kidded him. “Tell me, I want to hear it.” Under his breath, he said, “I am going to do my work.” In my heart, I was jumping up and down but I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. And that was it. He returned to the table with renewed motivation without an emotional wrestle between us. Thank you, Lord! After a few more minutes, he was moving to the music playing in the background while he completed his drawing of all the stages of fern reproduction. 🙂
Holy rest works!