“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.” (Matt. 11:28-29, ESV)
Have you ever been through a season in your life when you were constantly tired? As a special needs parent, I believe it happens to all of us on a fairly regular basis, however I recently experienced a time in my life when it seemed as though I could not get any rest at all.
My son had just come through a relatively serious surgery and recovery process, for which my wife took a medical leave from her job to stay home. While she was able to support our son at home, she quickly burned herself out on the level of daily care she was finding that she needed to provide.
I certainly did my best to support her when I was home, however that also meant that as a teacher I was putting my various schoolwork on the back burner. The only time I was finding that I was able to actually get any work done was when everyone was asleep, which meant that some nights, at least on the weekends, I wasn’t getting much sleep.
I thought to myself, “Where would I find the strength to get through the long sleepless nights and the even more exhausting mornings, even on the weekends, when it was challenging to just sit and have breakfast with my son.”
I reflected on what might be positive about these experiences, and what gifts might be in these challenging moments that God could be bringing now.
First, I considered the time I had to myself late at night, when the house was quiet, and although I was busy at work, I could rest in the peace of the home while locked away in the office. While at work I could listen to my favorite podcasts or pastors, catch up on news but also listen to my favorite online personalities go deep into prayer or scripture. I could write, take time to blog or use my creativity as an outlet to keep my attitude positive and feel good about myself.
Most importantly, I could reflect on my spiritual health, pray, and ask God for the strength I needed to push through, but also to surrender my need for rest to him.
So I take advantage of the times that I have to recharge and get grounded once again in the knowing that my God carries me when I’m weak, refreshes me when I’m tired, lifts me up when I am depressed or feeling bad about my situation. He instructed us to come to Him when we are weary and heavy burdened so that we may have rest, not a temporary reprieve but true fulfilling rest. The rest I can experience even in the middle of the night when my eyes are begging for just a few minutes to be closed, I close them as I pray to be restored, and find the strength I need to complete any task in front of me.
Written by John Felageller
John lives in Northbrook, IL with his wife Elizabeth and his son Christopher (ASD), and is currently an Elementary Teacher at a Charter School in Chicago, IL. He is a regular contributor to Key Ministry’s Special Needs Family blog, and is both a live presenter and on Key Ministry’s Facebook page. He coordinates a Special Needs Dads meet-up in his community and works with several other local Special Needs organizations that serve both parents and children.
Connect with John on his Facebook page here.