First Word, April 2nd: When You Just Need A Break

By April 2, 2020First Word

My mind has felt like a jumbled mess lately. The pendulum of mental activity swings from
hyperdrive, take-in-as-much-information-as-possible, to fatigue and overwhelmed confusion.
I’ve found myself thinking lately, “wow, there’s just too much going on inside my head. I feel like
I need a break from my own brain.” A Sabbath, if you will.

Sabbath comes from the Hebrew “shabbat.” English translations often paraphrase this as “rest,”
but another translation highlights the active nature of ceasing from work to redirect energy into
contemplation, dwelling in what is spiritual. For me, that usually means finding ways to get out of
my own busy head.

Usually, I turn to music. Scrolling through my “recently played” section the other day, I realized
that there’s been a trend in the music I’ve been listening to lately. Music is often indicative of
how people feel, even if they struggle to articulate their emotions and needs. Sometimes, art
reveals those needs before we recognize them within ourselves. As for me, the need being
expressed reflected my thoughts from earlier: the need for rest and renewal.

For example, I’ve probably listened to Radiohead’s album Kid A at least 10 times straight
through in the past week. Something about the album has really resonated with me lately (no
pun intended). Amidst the experimental electronics of Kid A comes the plaintive, orchestral
“How to Disappear Completely.” It’s the track I’ve listened to most frequently from the album.
Throughout the song, Yorke repeatedly floats back to the phrase, “I’m not here; this isn’t
happening.” This was, allegedly, the mantra given to him by Michael Stipe, R.E.M’s lead
vocalist, when Radiohead toured with them. Yorke asked Stipe how he dealt with the fatigue
and anxiety of tour performance, and Stipe suggested tuning out what was fueling those
emotions, even for just a moment. It’s a lament for rest.

As Christians, our want to block everything else out is often accompanied (apologies for a
second pun) by a need for renewal and deep connection with our Creator. Even Jesus
demonstrates the practice of Sabbath throughout scripture–departing into the wilderness to take
time away after healing several people (Luke 5), to praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before
his arrest (Matthew 26). Of course, Jesus doesn’t “disappear completely,” but there is a similar
recognition of mental and emotional strain and fatigue, giving voice to that ache, and seeking
recovery.

For me, listening to a song like “How to Disappear Completely” on repeat can be a prayer
practice. It’s asking God, “what do I do with all this?” without necessarily expecting an answer.
It’s also finding solidarity with an artist who expresses the depth of exhaustion and anxiety that
I’m sure many can relate to. And by realizing how much I’m listening to it, I can try to nudge
myself in the direction of self-care. You have to realize you need Sabbath before you can really
embrace it.

Check out Kid A if you haven’t; it’s a great album. More than that, though, pay attention to the
art you are taking in during this time. It’s likely telling you something significant about how you
are experiencing the world. If you’re in a similar headspace as me, maybe you also need the
time, space, and means for mental renewal. Experiencing great art is a wonderful way to take
Sabbath, too.

__________

Kristin Young serves as the Day Camp and Outreach Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator at FLBC. After growing up coming to FLBC as a camper and then serving on summer staff, she is stoked to see how kids and adults grow through the experiences they have with each other in creation. Kristin loves trail running, ice cream, and cedar trees.

One Comment

  • Lori Russell says:

    Kristin!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing your experience and your wisdom. We miss you so much. Please continue to share or point me in the direction to find your posts. Sending you love, hugs, and prayers

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