Rebekah Lyons is the author of “Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose” and two additional books. She has been featured on “TODAY,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. Lyons and her husband, Gabe, are co-founders of Q Ideas, a nonprofit organization helping Christian leaders engage in culture. The Lyonses live in Tennessee with their four children.
How do we know when we’re stressed?
Lyons and her husband moved to New York City nine years ago with their children, one of whom has Down syndrome.
They relocated with excitement to reach a city in need of a Savior, but the harsh reality of life quickly settled in.
“Four months in, I actually had my first panic attack, which came as an extreme surprise,” Lyons said. “It was on a flight … that hit turbulence and something rose in me. The way it was described to me is that the body can’t contain the emotional toll that it’s been carrying, so it starts to act out. New York was the pressure cooker for me as a young mom coming off a decade of a lot of chronic stress with my firstborn.”
Research shows that 77% of Americans experience physical symptoms related to stress.
Lyons, who battled anxiety and depression, said stress caused shallow breathing, a racing heartbeat and sleepless nights.
“When I got panic attacks on an airplane, did I ever picture that I’m now going to get on an airplane every week and talk about the rescue of God?” Lyons added. “That’s what He does. I need to say, ‘I’m not going to bow to fear as if that’s the end of the story.’”
Why do we need rhythms of renewal?
Lyons said there’s a cadence to creation that God invites us into.
“Evening and morning was the first day, the second day, the third day and so on,” Lyons said. “Then we have days, months and years. We have seasons, tides on the beach, constellations in orbit. Our bodies have a heartbeat, a pulse, breathing and walking or striding in rhythm … we’ve got a circadian rhythm. Everything God created was established in rhythm.”
Each day is an opportunity to, in a sense, sync our souls to God’s rhythm.
“I chose renewal because it means to make new, to come alive again,” Lyons added. “He’s all about renewing our hearts and minds to make us new again and again. He does it in rhythm. Every single morning is a chance to be made new and come alive again.”
What are the rhythms of renewal?
Lyons said there are two “input rhythms” and two “output rhythms” of renewal because we can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves.
Input rhythms: These allow the peace of Jesus to fill us.
1. Rest: Take inventory at a soul level through reflection and journaling. Try a tech detox, make space for quiet time, develop a sleeping schedule or a calmer morning routine. Lyons said rest is the most challenging rhythm.
2. Restore: Give yourself planned permission to play and have fun with family and friends, eat healthier for an active mind, exercise, take a walk or seek adventure by taking a trip somewhere.
Output rhythms: These help us engage with the world around us.
1. Connect: “When you’re alone and vulnerable, you’re afraid, but when you come together in that vulnerability you become brave as a unit because you realize so many people are facing the same challenges that I’m facing,” Lyons said. “That disarms a whole lot of shame.”
2. Create: After Lyons’ kids got a little older, she needed to dream again. “When I found a little more margin in the day, I had to think through, ‘Who was I before kids?’” Lyons said. “I was called ‘Becca book’ in fourth grade because I was obsessed with reading. I loved to write and processed my emotions at 3 in the morning as a young mom. I think God surfaced some of those things.”
Why do we drift from these simple practices?
The path of peace comes by aligning our lives within God’s rhythms rather than trying to keep up with a culture running on fumes.
“The irony is that we have to write a book again on how to be human,” Lyons said. “These are basic, but today it almost feels countercultural to live in a way that is fully human and present with people. It feels like you’re swimming upstream to make that happen.”
Lyons said we’re not wired like machines.
“We have machines that are never turned off because of efficiency and productivity, so then we’re challenged as humans to never turn off,” Lyons added. “God says, ‘I rest. I’m not optional or casual about rest. It’s a mandate.’ Because He rested and blessed the seventh day, I believe that rest precedes blessing. So, we don’t have to run to earn rest; we run fueled from rest. Our work is actually more life-giving and impactful when we come from a posture of rest.”