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TLDR Highlights:

  • Wo hen lei (I am very tired). Learned this new phrase from watching the chinese drama Ming dynasty and it is very appropriate
  • Praise the Lord that in this time where it’s not been good financially for the world that my contract was extended till the end of July.
  • The biggest flaw of this period and biggest lesson learnt : the false sense of rest and time
  • Finding rest in God

I’ve got it down on my calendar that i started self-isolating on 17 March. Since then there’s so much that has happened and being 10 weeks in honestly it feels like i’ve been running a one person relay race. It is emotionally and mentally tiring and it’s only now that i’ve stopped to take a breather.

Background context: Before self-isolation my schedule looked like this –

Monday – Part time work (5 hours), Tuesday – catch up on reading/ work for class, Wed – Volunteering at the museum (6 hours), Thursday – Class (6 hours straight), Friday – Part time work (7 hours), Everyday – read at least 2 articles for class

And this is my schedule once self-isolation happened.

Monday – Part time work (4 hours), Tuesday – catch up on reading/work for class, Wed – Part time work (4 hours), Thursday – Class (2 hours – live session), Friday – part time work (4 hours), Everyday – read at least 2 articles for class

If you compare it there isn’t really a difference except that there is no more volunteering, some classes will be uploaded and i don’t have to go through a 6 hours marathon each week and i don’t have to make a journey to work or class, or dress up, pants? who needs them?. I would say that this really was the problem the first month in. With this ‘new’ situation i thought that i would finally get a rest and get to do a lot of things like getting ahead in my assignments and reading. I’ll actually get to work on figuring out what i want to write for my dissertation, i’ll catch up with friends because everyone has nothing else to do. There’s so much time now, I really was so ambitious. I’m not the only one who felt that way as i remember the sentiment/mood was about the same (at least online). Suddenly you saw all these virtual courses and virtual theatre popping up on social media. All in the good intention to help people stay indoors of course.

However my mistake was that i just jumped into it thinking that i was getting rest now but not actually resting. In fact i think i got busier or more pressured to do more because i ‘had all this time’. The false sense of freedom actually put pressure on me to do more whilst ignoring my emotional and mental health. I didn’t acknowledge the fact that things are different, sure everyone said that but what did it really mean? How did it apply to me specifically? I guess i didn’t really want to think about it too because i was so busy wanting to do all these things that i could finally do.

Pop quiz time – do you think i managed to accomplish that? Find out if you’re right after the next section. (Since i’m trying to do like a chronological order sorta recollection of events, i’ll talk more about this after the section about my part time work).

I also remember in march i was looking for a new part time job because my contract ended March 31. I had gone for an interview to be a student ambassador but that didn’t work out (so many nerves in that interview). When self-isolation started so did work from home because i do admin work so a lot of it can be done from home. It sounded and felt really cool to be honest, I set up my little workspace and it was nice that i could get up and snack/eat anytime because the kitchen is 2 steps away. Again at this time many people were also starting to work from home and you could see instagram stories about everyone’s different set ups and lots and lots of stories with coffee mugs and a laptop in the background. It was a little stressful at that time workload wise because the year was ending for the centre and a lot of things had to be tied up and completed before 31 March. I think the thought that this was all ending in 2 weeks gave me the sense that again, i would finally get to rest. I told a friend of mine that i was looking forward to having time to focus on my studies and resting and then a few days before 31 March i got an email from work saying that they would love if i would stay on for another 4 more months! OMG mixed feelings here. On one hand i had just said to my friend that i was looking forward to this break and on the other hand the economy is looking like it’s not going to be so great and this is a very good opportunity for income at this time. After a few days of back and forth internal debates with myself on whether or not to take the job i decided to take it. I still have mixed feelings about it now because 10 weeks later people are loosing jobs, furloughed (zech included) and getting pay cuts so i’m definitely grateful for God’s providence. At the same time it has added to the stress that i have experienced. Thinking about it, i know myself and either way i think i would be stressed because if i didn’t take the job i would just be stressing out about finances. I guess the moral of the story here for me is that it’s not really about the thing that is causing me stress rather it is how i handle stress that needs improvement. I’m a W.I.P needing a lot of God’s grace yah.

So back to the part where i thought i had all this time and could rest. Based on stuff i wrote on my calendar (i’m using it as reference so i get it right) this is all the work i was doing for the past 10 weeks. I had to read up for class weekly. Each week we had minimum 12 to 13 articles to read and they vary from 8 pages to 30+ pages for each article. Sometimes we get a podcast to listen to but it’s always at least an hour and half long. This was going on all the way up to the 7th of May so that’s about 6 weeks of that, it would take the entire week just to finish the reading for that week of class. Then i also had two assignments due so we’re talking about at least a week worth of solid work on it for each assignment, i also had to think about what i wanted to write for my dissertation (this really became optional after awhile) and do part time work (12 hours per week). Basically, once i got that weeks reading done i immediately had to start on the coming week’s reading. Along with that, once i got one assignment done i had to study for my exam (oh yeah that was not an announcement i appreciated especially when it was only 2 1/2 weeks notice, i was moaning for 5 minutes out loud, zech was not amused), once the exam was done i had to finish another assignment and now i still have to figure out my dissertation before the end of the month. There was no rest, there was no time TO rest.

I don’t know about you but just writing that all out made me exhausted. This picture really sums up what i feel about this schedule in the pre-COVID 19 time vs self-isolation. Nothing has changed. But also not really.

Why not really? Yes i nothing had changed work wise but mentally and emotionally it was actually different because of all those false expectations i had, the expectation of the ability to rest because i had ‘more time’ and that i had ‘more time’ to do things i always wanted to. So basically i was running on a ‘normal’ schedule but also struggling to reconcile that with my expectation that i had more time. This just led to a lot of disappointment in myself. I remember in week 2 and 3 it just went downhill and i was sad and full of anxiety. It didn’t help my relationship with zech which added even more stress. It was not pretty.

I remember at the end of week 3 i had realized that i needed to deal with my mental and emotional health because i had put it off for long enough. I also realized that i needed to be kinder to myself. All these expectations to do so much and accomplish things at this time had made me judge myself really harshly. I posted a list of things i learned in these 3 weeks on twitter and they were:

1. Be kind to yourself

2. Don’t rush whether it be about adjusting to the new normal or rush through your feelings

3. Boundaries

4. Don’t forget to breathe

5. Where you are right now is because something changed, you can survive change

7 weeks later i still think those lessons are important but i also have learned that circumstances may change but really the source of that stress is me. I make the decisions to worry about something or to do something about it, i make the decision of how i want to approach the challenge. In relation to that the biggest thing I learned and am still learning is about the idea of rest.

On Jan 1 2020 i woke up and felt God put a word in my heart and that was the word ‘rest’. I felt that God was saying that this was what He wanted me to learn for this year and i put it down as a 2020 goal. Almost 6 months later I have seen many facets of the concept of rest. At first it started off with taking the Sabbath off. Like really resting and doing nothing because i was really bad at doing nothing. So that was the thing at the beginning of the year. Then when classes started and i had assignments due the question became what attitude do you need to have about rest? This is a bit confusing but basically i was doing the ‘do nothing on Sunday’ part pretty well but i felt like i didn’t feel refreshed like i thought i would be on Monday. Yeah it was partly the monday blues but also there was something else. This was harder to adjust to because hey i was doing really well at part 1 so it took awhile to see that there were more parts to this concept of rest. And that was going back to God’s design of rest. Mentally i was still doing a lot of work worrying and that was not resting was it?

Matthew 11: 28-30 “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 burden light.”

So to reiterate (not for you but for myself really). I was doing the physical resting part well, but now it was time to learn about the mental and spiritual rest. Admittedly i’m not doing so well in Part 2 as the last month has been really stressful and i can say that i am worn out. But i’m a work in progress by God’s grace and writing this has really helped to get me to refocus on what is important, finding rest in God. My devotion these few days have been about the topic of rest. Mary and Martha, Mary choose what is important which is not the busyness and doing things but to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive. Then there’s Matthew 6 where worrying is not going to add an hour to your life and Father God loves you more than the flowers and sparrows which He gives lots of love and care to, so what more you? I think the message is pretty clear. Rest, refocus. It’s also spiritual and mental rest.

Finally, in writing this i got Part 3 (or is it Part 2.1?) of the concept of rest which is the reconciliation of the idea that i have time to rest vs actually resting. Note to self: They are not the same thing girl. It’s really about not telling myself i get rest when i’m not actually resting, being real with myself. Again a work in progress.

At the end of the day i think the wonderful part of life is that we keep on learning, evolving and hopefully become better people. These lessons have not always been an easy pill to swallow but with God’s grace i believe i can learn what rest is.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I tried putting in images to spice things up a little. But yeah, let’s take care of ourselves and lean in on God who wants us to find rest in Him.