My self-taught, self-rehearsed, self-inflicted all-time-most-repeated-self-talk:
“It doesn’t matter.”
And by “it,” I mean “me.”
I don’t matter.
This is how I survived my life for many years. This is how I “made it.” By telling myself over and over that “it doesn’t matter.”
If you’ve ever tried to put yourself in a survivor’s shoes to imagine what they have endured, have you ever stopped to count all the things that “don’t matter”?
I’m cold. It doesn’t matter.
I’m hungry. It doesn’t matter.
I’m exhausted. It doesn’t matter.
I’m sick. It doesn’t matter.
I have to go to the bathroom. It doesn’t matter.
I’m already in overwhelming physical pain. It doesn’t matter.
I was already gang raped an hour ago. It doesn’t matter.
I will be raped anyways.
it I don’t matter.
And now, when I am cold, sick, tired, overwhelmed, in pain or exhausted and people keep expecting me to be ok, to get over it, to push through, to do and to be what they demand…..I am triggered. And I spiral easily into overwhelm and shut down.
In my life right now, I imagine this looks pretty lame to most people who don’t know that I am recovering from trauma. Our world tells us that we need to keep doing, keep going, to push through the exhaustion and to look good while we are doing it.
Exactly like the men who trafficked and tortured me.
But there is One who does care. One who does not tell me to just push through, to just keep going, to ignore my pain, my exhaustion, the ache in my soul because I don’t matter.
He is the One who says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28)
Friends, I don’t care who you are or where you came from. If you are tired, sick, hungry, exhausted or overwhelmed, there is One who offers rest. He will never look upon your weakness and exploit you anyways. He won’t expect you to push past your ability to endure and just keep going.
He simply offers for us to come to Him and find rest.
I am learning this new place where I have permission to refuse to march to the orders, expectations, and raised eyebrows of those whose “busy” demands mine. And I am learning that it is ok to say “no,” sometimes with no explanation. Just… “no.” I will be honest – people don’t like this. It makes them uncomfortable – because our culture is no longer comfortable with rest, and somehow we have confused having meaningful purpose in our lives with being busy.
As I have been forced to lay down the busy and trade it for rest in this season I have also learned that this incessant busyness and constant state of overwhelm most Americans are living in is actually the work of the enemy of our souls….and we don’t actually have to bow to it.
We have a choice.
I love what Denzel Washington said last weekend at Dillard University’s commencement ceremony: “Just because you’re doing a lot more, doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done.” Preach.
It’s ok to lay down the yoke of expectations and the soul-wearying, people-pleasing, mind-numbing, busy frenzy of “good” activity and just be with Him in a place where I can actually breathe and rest and be re-yoked to the One whose ways are gentle and humble and who brings rest for my soul.
Because I matter to Him -the One who offers – no, bids me – come and rest.
And so do you.