I’m standing in line at the grocery store. I’m looking at gum. Winterfresh or spearmint. Which? One? A worker cheerfully walks up to me, placing her hand on my cart.

“Ma’am, would you like to go to the self check-out? There’s no wait.”

I look at her. I say nothing. Then, the tears make their way to my eye corners. “No thanks,” I hear myself say, “I’ve had enough change lately.”

And that is when I realized that the running has finally caught up with me. I’ve been waiting for rest to descend upon me. And it isn’t happening.

I became aware of my deep need to experience rest for my soul about a year after the twins were born. Overnight, it seemed, life became a cloudy mess and my efforts to defog it were both desperate and feeble. I began reading a book called Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove. I’ve talked about that book here before. In it, she mentions that “in resting we pull away from doing although all is not done.” How many times do I say to myself as soon as I finish ____, then I’ll find rest?

I tend to view rest as a reward for finishing the work. Or worse, I accept a counterfeit version of rest described in her book: “When all our accomplishing crashes into the wall of utter fatigue, we finally take a break and call that rest.”

And that is where I found myself today, in line at the grocery store. The concept of choosing rest even though the list remains unchecked and the clothes remain unfolded is a foreign one. Rest. Not a nap or a movie or dinner with friends, though I need those times, too. I’m talking about soul rest. Alone rest. Face time with the One who calls me to come…because His burden is light. And I’m not just talking about 30 minutes in the morning. I sense my soul longing for hours and hours…maybe even days …of quiet. Time to think, to remember freedom, to hear the silence, to receive perspective. Is this the introvert in me coming out? Or is this just what we all are created to need?

And so I sit at an impasse in the dark too late at night, writing about rest but uncertain about experiencing it. I know it is possible. Even if the weekend of solitude isn’t…I know it is possible to experience rest even in the midst of chaos. To “allow the present to be imperfect”, another difficult quote for me to swallow. The trick for me is remembering that I have a choice. That rest will not show up as soon as I finish my list.

Maybe I should start putting rest on my list.