“I have a disease… I am addicted to measurable productivity.” –Emily P. Freeman
Does anyone else get twitchy when you try to force yourself to rest? Do you feel guilty? Self-indulgent? Bored? Does your to-do list buzz incessantly in your ear when you try to take a day off?
Why is Sabbath so hard for us?
Because we are born and bred to produce.
We’re addicted to doing, wondering all the while why we’re so crazy exhausted.
But the fact is, we serve the Lord of the Sabbath, a God who says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
Do we trust him with that promise? Do we know the world will spin on without us for a day? That each week we can let go of the doing that defines us and instead simply be?
I think that if we can, we might trade our weary yokes and heavy burdens for his, the kind that are easy and light.
I’m on this journey myself, trying to wean from the addiction, to live in the kind of life he offers me.
I think addictions are best fought in the support of community. So what if we all share what’s working for us with Sabbath rest? Not as prescriptions for each other, but an opening up of our stories to see if we can find hope in each other.
Here’s what working for me and my family when it comes to Sabbath….
Sabbath Day Our Sabbath is on a weekday. As others have mentioned, weekends often end up being the days that we pour the most out. We’re left depleted by the end of them. So we’ve found that Sabbath doesn’t work for us unless it’s on a weekday. At the beginning of each semester, we work hard to find a day of the week that we can dub our Sabbath. Then we guard against scheduling any regular activities or commitments or work for that day.
For homeschooling this even means doing extra on other days or fitting in some school work in between activities during the weekend. Not everyone has the flexibility to do this, but for those of us with the curse/blessing of not having a nine-to-five job, this can be the key that makes Sabbath possible. Maybe you can make Sabbath work for you on Sunday or Saturday. Maybe you have to.
I’ve found the best way to find Sabbath is to think outside the box of “should.” It’s our own expectations that hold us captive.
Sabbath with Kids I know. It sounds like an oxymoron. For a long time when my husband and I would hear or talk about Sabbath, we’d just roll our eyes and think, “A day of rest? Ha!” Last time we checked no one is interested in taking our children away for 24 hours every week so that we can get a break. Bummer.
But we believed Sabbath to be important, so we tried anyway. More often than not, we’d get to the end of our Sabbath, look and each other and ask, “Do you feel rested?” Yeah, me neither. Just keeping our three young children fed, refereed, and alive was exhausting.
We realized that each of us needs alone time to recharge. So here’s what we do. Each Sabbath, we divide the day into two four hour chunks of time 8am-12pm and 1-5pm. One week, he gets the morning shift, I get the afternoon, and the next week we switch, because, hello, nap time is a significant advantage. During my four-hour time, I am off the parenting clock. They are all his. I can lock myself in my room or go out guilt-free. Then when I have the kids, I’m glad my husband is getting the chance to refuel.
It’s really quite amazing how good it feels to have a four-hour chunk of time every week devoted to doing WHATEVER I WANT. By the end, I come back to the family happy to see them. We still eat three meals together, leftovers, something super simple, or ordered in (because going out to eat with young kids is the opposite of restful, right??). Then our evening is usually family movie night with popcorn. Our kids love Sabbath, and now my husband and I do too.
I share this only to say that Sabbath with kids IS possible. It isn’t perfect. But don’t give up on the idea. Get creative and find what works for you. Chances are your Sabbath will continually evolve as your family grows.
Sabbath Rules I once heard a speaker talk about how he and his family practice Sabbath. By the end, I thought, “That sounds miserable.” There were so many rules about what was allowed and what wasn’t. It all smacked of law and legalism.
Here’s the one rule that I’ve found to be helpful for Sabbath: “Do that which is life-giving.” If you’re having trouble deciding if you should or shouldn’t do something on a Sabbath, ask yourself, “Would this be life-giving or life-draining?” Only you can answer that. For some that means saying yes to going out with friends. For others that means saying no.
Figure out what fills you up, connects you with the Father, and makes your mind and body unwind. For me that means reading, journal praying, watching “Call the Mid-Wife,” going for a walk, taking a nap.
On Sabbath days, I still sometimes get twitchy thinking of all the things I could be accomplishing, but if I resist the addiction, the craving to do, I find the refreshment that feeds my soul, that connects me with my Father, and in turn blesses my family and my work.
So, what’s working for you when it comes to Sabbath rest? What is your journey with Sabbath?
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