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Nerds: Make Room for Rest in the New Year

One of the hardest things to do is rest. There are so many things that seem to require our attention so much of  the time, it’s hard to turn the power button off and relax. Sometimes the way we engage our hobbies, our free-time activities takes up more energy than most full-time jobs. Other times we will fill up every free moment scrolling through our newsfeeds, taking in more and more anxiety-inducing information in a broken world. And let’s face it, 2020 had plenty of bad news and so far 2021 has followed suit.

Conventions, late night gaming sessions, keeping up with all the news on the latest happenings in gaming, tv shows, movies, anime can be exhausting. I’m so exhausted after conventions. There’s this high of coming together with people who share this same love for something. It’s wonderful, but man that crash afterwards, right? 

I am a Christian and I believe that Jesus loves you nerd, and he wants you to rest, for your health, for your well-being and for the good of others. 

But, we all have a natural feeling of what rest is. What refreshes you? What gives you calm? We should rest in two ways. We should rest on our own, and we should rest in community. 

What does resting on your own look like? Is it sleeping all day? Is it binging the latest and greatest on your streaming service of choice? Video games? Reading?

We find rest in community. . . . We are not intended to be isolated creatures.Rest is a good thing. It is Biblical. God rested. God worked for six days in the creation of earth and humanity. On the seventh day He rested. Did God need to rest? No. What He was doing was showing us a healthy life pattern. Work, but take time to rest. 

How we rest is a defining thing about us. It brings us joy. We look forward to it, especially if we work hard beforehand. 

It is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. It is also one of God’s ways of showing us that we are, in fact, not God. We need a break from productivity. We need sleep. We need downtime. God doesn’t. But in His mercy, He showed us that rest is important–it is crucial to human flourishing.

But what relaxes you? Sometimes it’s a hobby, maybe collecting something. Maybe it’s keeping up with another universe and imagining what that other reality is like. Maybe it’s gaming, either for the story or for the sheer joy of competition. Maybe it’s cooking, or making something. Maybe it’s learning about something that has nothing to do with your work. 

I don’t want to dismiss the fact that for some of you, rest does come in the form of doing more. Doing an activity you love, such as hiking, brings more rest than sitting on your couch, and that’s ok! We all rest differently. 

We also find rest in community. True rest is found in Christ Jesus, and that is a form of community. We are not made to be isolated creatures. I can hear all you introverts screaming. It’s ok. I don’t mean that anytime we have a free moment we should fill it up with lunch dates and Destiny 2 raids. 

What I mean is that one of the reasons we have rest is to bond with others. We bond with people over work, Isn’t that just as true in rest? I’ve made friends over many shared interests. My love of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets. Video games. Board games. Eating hibachi. Sharing memes. Having unnecessarily strong opinions about characters in television shows and movies.

The perfect evening for me looks like this. Me and my family, over at a friends house (pretend we’re in a pre or post Covid world here), sharing some snacks and drinks over a bonfire. It’s about 45 degrees, not too cold but cold enough to enjoy the bonfire. Then we gather inside, and play board games, maybe a go-to like Settlers of Catan if we are just wanting to hang out and not think too deeply, or maybe trying out a new game and discovering it together. Talking about the latest in whatever is happening, gushing over the latest movie or this cool YouTube video we saw. After a few hours and hanging out, coming home, getting the family in bed, then firing up a video game and just playing and reflecting on the day. Maybe an hour. Maybe three. Then ideally sleeping in the next morning, and back to work. This sounds amazing to me and if I could get this once a week for the rest of my life I would be a happy soul. 

Another great night would be anything that involves Mario Kart. Maybe starting a new farm in Stardew Valley with some friends. Diving into Fortnite. Having a marvel movie marathon. Or maybe just rewatching My Hero Academia for the fifth (42nd) time.

A word of caution. This doesn’t mean taking what we find rest in and turning it into more work. Maybe we just enjoy our rest activities exclusively and don’t care for our work so much, so we do anything we can to be doing that instead of work. It’s not healthy, and not how God designed us as people. That just leads to burnout, you won’t even enjoy the hobby anymore. When everything blurs, it gets messy.

Sometimes we want to use everything to our advantage, so much so that we never turn off. We don’t rest. True rest is not work. True rest energizes us for work. True rest helps us enjoy the gifts God gave us all, this earth and the many wonderful things in it.

What I am advocating for is a healthy balance of rest in what we enjoy, and using those joys to build friendships that can grow beyond just a common interest. It can be a friendship that changes you, that helps you grow as a person. 

It is a soft parallel to the church, which demonstrates the power and importance of community. We gather and make friends with folks who we literally have nothing in common with except a realization that we need Jesus. We gather together, worship together, and form life-giving relationships.

Jesus loves you nerd, and wants you to rest and have friends you can rest with. So find that rest and enjoy it. 

Adam is a father, husband, student at SBTS and serves as youth minister at CBC Lancaster. You can follow him on Twitter @adamclodfelter for nerdy jokes and follow him on Twitch at twitch.tv/adamclodfelter to see him play games, decently.

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