How can I find true Rest? – Dr Brioney Keats

When rest is about relationships, everything changes.


From Luke’s Journal 2022 | Rest | Vol.27 No.1

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Rest. Is it merely the absence of busyness, or perhaps a dedicated time of peace and quiet? If either of these are the true definition, it is likely to be unattainable even by the best of us.

As a final year medical student, a lifelong struggle with anxiety firmly gripped my heart, and impacted me to the point of not being able to attend my placement without crying, feeling trapped and subsequently, needing to take time off from placement for seven weeks to try and recover. I was forced to take a time of physical and emotional rest because I couldn’t carry on without it.

Now, as a junior doctor, my shifts are rarely something that allow for rest. I spend my time busily attending to the requests and needs of others, staff or patients, and trying to live up to the expectations of my seniors and supervisors, let alone my own inner critic. A lunch break seems a luxury, and even then – the phone doesn’t stop ringing. My time is not my own, and taking the time to “rest” seems like an option there is little allowance for. 

“A lunch break seems a luxury, and even then the phone doesn’t stop ringing. My time is not my own, and taking time to “rest” seems like an option there is little allowance for.”

The standard definition of rest is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength” or “an instance or period of resting” or “an interval of silence of a specified duration”. If we rely only on this definition, it is based on our ability to cultivate time in our calendar, our ability to prioritise and to shut out distractions. If we aren’t careful, we can become so busy trying to pursue “rest” that it becomes just part of a routine where we may rest our bodies, but our spirits are just as anxious or stressed. As a Christian, I believe rest isn’t something we have to strive for, but a connection we have with the Prince of Peace – Jesus. Rest isn’t just about resting our physical body, but also our emotions, our mind and intellect, and our spirit. 

Photo by Artem Beliaikin at Pexels

When we realise that rest is not about a routine, but about a relationship, everything changes. Even in the midst of the tears and the fear of attending placement as a final year student, I spent more time in worship – learning to belong in the arms of the one who is always holding me. I learned to take in the small moments of a busy shift as a junior doctor – steadying my hand before inserting a cannula, taking a breath as I sign into the computer during a ward round. While silence, quiet, candles and face masks may be the world’s definition of rest, I’ve learned it is something much more precious than the fading, interrupting world of busyness that threatens to disrupt that space every chance it gets. If our peace lies in the world and its provisions, it won’t last very long.

What I’ve discovered is that peace is something cultivated through relationship – that even if my world is crumbling around me, the Lord is with me, and that it is His strength that builds my faith. When I am weak, He is always strong, because of His great glory. When I am breaking, He is ever faithful to redeem me and build me up again. Resting in Him means that the source of my value does not lie in the opinions of men or in anything I can do, but in who He has created me to be.

Rest is the beginning of restoration. When we learn to submit our failures, our desires, our dreams and our disappointments, we can find rest at the foot of the cross. In submission, our spirit is connected and God partners with us in sharing His peace. Only then can He begin to restore us to who He has truly made us to be – His children.

There will still be moments and days where I don’t get the time to physically rest, but my hope is that I will always know where my true rest and peace comes from – and I pray that you would know the same.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Dr Brioney Keats
Dr Brioney Keats is a proud Gamilaroi woman currently working as a junior doctor at Gold Coast Health in Queensland. She is passionate about providing person-centred care and fostering the development of healthy and well rounded medical professionals. Her areas of interest are Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Global and Indigenous Health, advocacy and medical education.

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