While the offseason can mean many things for professional athletes the most integral part of this time is to capitalize on the opportunity to find rest. With the Major League Soccer season beginning preseason preparations in February and the championship game being held in mid-December, there is little true rest to be had for the players and their families who endure such a lengthy season. Even the offseason, with its time away from the game presents many different opportunities that get in the way of taking that rest.
For some players, they can spend several weeks overseas training with other clubs. Others will be invited into camp for their respective national teams to play in friendly matches. Still others have the task of rehabbing the injury that ended a season or that they suffered with throughout the year. Still others will try to find to get married, return home, or spend some time with friends and family that have had to come second to their professional careers throughout the season. Some of the athletes that I work with will be worried about coming into preseason camp at the appropriate weight; others have an offseason workout plan to keep them on track. So, what does rest in this world look like?
By definition, rest means to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” It can also find a range of definiton from sleeping to death. In truth, rest for the athlete (and really for us) should be close to the idea of sabbath that are part of Judeo-Christian values. Within the framework of the Jewish and Christian faiths, there is this idea that one ought to “rest” from normal labors and to consider, with thanksgiving, God and the blessings that he has bestowed.
As a pastor and chaplain, my rest often is found in spending time with my family or playing disc golf with some friends. Occasionally, my rest includes going on a trip or retreat. There are many different ways that I try to find rest – some friends of mine don’t feel “rested” until they have pushed their bodies to the brink of physical exhaustion with a mountain climb or bike ride. What this speaks to is the need for our bodies and our souls to experience “rest” – rest is not merely physical, but it is emotional and spiritual as well. And with the taxing demands of our world – consider with social media and how “in touch” we are, today, there is even more need for rest than ever before.
Perhaps as you consider your own need for rest you might take a stress/burnout inventory test such as this one from Psychology Today. Another way to assess is to look at your calendar – how much margin and space do you have? For you? For your family? For God? I pray that you will take steps – just like I need to, to find rest. A final thought – consider the words of God to the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 6:16), for a people needing rest:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Rev. Brad Kenney