Why Do We Feel So Restless?

Sometimes it feels like we’re just blazing through life—in a hurry (just because), with no other reason than to get to the next thing as fast as we can. There’s not a real reason for us to do things faster than we always have, it just feels better. Like we’re actually accomplishing something, right?

But when the week’s over, we’re left in this fugue state, unaware that we were forgetting to live the entire time. Our society has instilled in us a culture of over-commitment and exhaustion that drives our everyday actions and pushes us to stay up later and later as we attempt to prove our parents wrong. “Ugh, I’m not lazy. You just don’t get me, Mom.”

Maybe it’s the Millennial in us. The over-achieving, yes-and-no ma’am/sir attitude that’s embedded in our DNA and makes us think that there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish. But we’re wrong. The week weighs on us. We get home from another long day at work, flip on the TV and—thirty minutes later—come to the realization that we haven’t actually watched one second of the show. And the crashing thought process that follows is a giant, unrelenting sense of unfulfillment and restlessness.

This lack of satisfaction is nothing new. It can stem from a lot of things, but often it’s because we can’t see that the Lord has a crafted plan for our lives, one that can overcome even the busiest of schedules. There is truly nothing more satisfying than realizing that the Lord is real and present in even your bleakest outlook. Here are some tips for combating your anxiety, your restlessness, your dissatisfaction with your life and journey so far.

TIP ONE: Stop making Jesus into a to-do list.

Being a Christ-follower isn’t just that intentional interaction with a deity Lord before dinner and bedtime, on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day. You know that. We know that. So why are we bringing it up?

You may not treat church attendance so carelessly (we see you, don’t worry), but what about your daily communion with God? It’s more than just a few jumbled words in the back of your mind as you read a chapter of the Bible, it’s learning to lean into constant conversation with an Almighty Lord. That sort of connection means more than Sunday morning is necessary to love Him best—more than a pre-set time limit in prayer everyday.

It’s seeking quiet moments to ask for advice—to recharge and enjoy His presence and affection more than the million other distractions in our twenty-first century lives. A good reminder of the impact that the Lord’s presence can have? “And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest,” (Exodus 33:14). Snag some rest in Him.

TIP TWO: Stop moving so fast.

We know that often—at the end of a long day—it’s not common for our first thought to be where you can find a good place to sit down with your Bible bros and blaze through a couple books of Ephesians. The insane pace that we own during the week isn’t something that we can sustain, so when we finally get to Friday, we’re more likely to sit down and binge on a couple seasons of the Flash. Which is an incredibly fascinating show (time-travel for the win), but does it fulfill any of your real desires? Not likely.

The Lord is calling for us to head down a tangent—to escape into the clutches of His Word—knowing that it’s our best option for satisfaction, it seems like it’s the best option anyways. Christ’s offering of spiritual satisfaction is a reality. He invites us to the table, to give us a taste of Himself that beckons us further into the kingdom of God. That sometimes means serving true repentance back at us: “the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mark 1:15).  And at other times it is the allure of his glory: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,” (Ps 119:103). But always, it’s edifying to our spirit to partake.

TIP THREE: Stop yearning for success.

Have you gotten that promotion yet? Tsk, tsk. Cause—if you didn’t know—the Lord bases His approval of you directly on your progress at whatever job you happen to have. Can you hear how ridiculous that sounds?

Actually, it’s not ridiculous to guess at why we think that way. Our motivations are thoroughly influenced by the culture around us—we’re high-performing, we obtain a high from our success, from promotions, from praise. We’re a feedback-oriented society that thrives on upward momentum. “Yes! PRECIOUS,” screamed Gollum, grasping at power as he tumbled into fiery lava. Sound familiar? We chase that American dream (is it, American, though?) as we kill ourselves in the process.

Unfortunately, our self-inflicted pursuit of empty success will leave us unfulfilled and restless still. The Lord doesn’t call for our corporate ladder of success. He calls us to love Him, praise Him and honor Him in the workplace. To make much of Him in our time with others. His pleasure is rooted in our glory of Him—and when that is realized, we can find our rest.

“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.” Matthew 11:28

When our greatest treasure is Christ, our greatest burden will feel feather-like. When our highest charge is to tell people about Jesus, we’ll go forth rejuvenated and crisp, fulfilled in our being. When we pursue the Lord to recharge our own batteries, He fills us with purpose.