It’s early in the year, and we’re not getting it totally right.
Still, committing to a Sabbath rest is the only official resolution that Murray and I made for 2016. (Read here why I’m also praying for Wonder, Wisdom, Love and Leverage.)
We figured, maybe we wouldn’t get to December so strung out if we rested all year long the way, um, God said we should. We also figured that pushing pause once a week might give us space to feel, think and decide – which would take care of any other resolutions we should or shouldn’t make.
Rest doesn’t come easy to me. There’s always lots of you-could-be-achieving-something guilt. So every week I pray, ‘God, show us how to rest.’
And here’s what we’ve come up with:
1 Make some rules
Fence off one day a week. It can be any day. Sunday still works best for us. Set a couple of specific boundaries, but don’t make it complicated, legalistic or unrealistic. All we’ve decided is that (1) we don’t open our laptops to work and (2) we don’t go onto social media on our phones.
A couple weeks ago it was the PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race. Thousands of marathon runners came past our house. We (and the puppy) stood on the driveway in our pyjamas and watched. It was a picture of the Sabbath. We were ring-fenced from the rush of life barrelling on oblivious. I thought,
Tomorrow, we can join in again. Catch up, or not. We don’t have to be fast or busy today. The world can be fast and busy for one day a week, without us.
So far so good. I believe the world really is still spinning on its axis.
2 Break some rules
On Sunday nights, we draw on the dining room table. We started doing this the second Sunday of the year, quite by accident. I subsequently bought a dozen rolls of brown paper, and we’ve been doing it every week since. We write down what we’re grateful for, and then we draw ridiculous pictures (like, ‘This is Dad with his hair on fire and I’m standing on a chair and braaiiing a marshmallow on his head…’ [*raucous laughter*]). To our boys, the dining room (as opposed to the kitchen) table also means Fancy, Grownup and Big Treat.
We’re trying to break out of what’s done or not done, as a rule. As a rule, no one has time to go bike riding or bush walking or lawn cricketing on a Sunday. So we’re trying to get out and do those under-the-sky things, even for only half an hour. A 20% effort can make an 80% difference.
3 Set your mind
If you do have obligations on your Sabbath day, change your posture. You don’t have to carry yourself the way leaning-forward, in-control, rushing-hectic Martha did. You could choose to carry yourself the way un-defensive, at-peace, let-me-listen Mary did.
I’m trying to change how I think about church or family get-togethers or any other kind of invitation I’ve chosen to accept. If I go somewhere with an attitude of rest, or host someone with an attitude of rest, it’s not a chore. I’m choosing to include these people or places in my Sabbath celebration of a good God who gives good gifts, like opportunities to hang out with amazing people.
4 Set your reminders
I have a downtime alarm that goes off at 21h00 every night and says I should probably start thinking about bed. Life will keep right on happening in the morning, accompanied by brand new mercies.
Every 90 days – four times a year – we do two or three days of deep rest. It gives us space to go, Are we all ok? Where have we come from? Where are we going? Let’s catch our breath before we carry on.
Every 90 days is also a good time to back up your files, clean up your clouds, use up everything in the freezer and start again. It’s incredibly restful, seriously.
5 Thank God that enough is enough
For the last couple of years we’ve made the first Sunday of every month Thanksgiving Sunday. It sounds all Swiss Family Robinson, but it’s really been something special for us. We all just say three or four things we’re grateful for. It takes two minutes, tops. No big deal and super helpful to get us to do a soul equation:
Stop + Take Stock = Rest
We’ve also started an Enough Habit. We get a chance to say,
‘I get enough [fill in the blank].’
Like, I get enough food, I get enough toys, I get enough green grass, I get enough attention, I get enough sleep, enough love. There’s profound, restorative power in that kind of contentment.
The Enough Habit helps me relax enough to be outrageously happy in this moment – which is, enough. It becomes easier to say, ‘I’m loving my kid at this phase / age / stage. Just look at him. He’ll never again be so [fill in the blank].’
It helps me remember that,
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:11)
Everything really is going to be ok.
. . .
Are you doing the Sabbath thing?
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You can also get Dragons and Dirt right here, if you’re in SA.
Here are the last couple of posts if you missed them:
How to teach your kids to figure out God’s will for their lives
Stop hiding from your husband OR: How to be his girlfriend
I am always deeply struck by the connection the writer of Hebrews makes between not entering God’s rest and unbelief! It is a sobering reminder to me to test my heart, find where I am placing my confidence, and make adjustments pronto!
Thanks for these practical ideas D. Reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” a few months ago, the author (can’t remember his name off-hand 🙂 ) made the point that a Sabbath is not supposed to be a time of “suffering”, but enjoyment. So as you said, drawing on the table, or eating your favourite meal, or enjoying refreshing friends, or sleeping…whatever gives your body and soul rest, is good.
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Thanks dear friend! And yes, absolutely, trying to focus on the fun and celebration and reveling / resting in God’s goodness.. Much love to you! x
For me this was last year’s message (command). To rest…at which I was rather unsuccessful I might add. So this year I too vowed to be more committed and focused on that and set boundaries in our family space as well as in my heart and head. So far so better. (Won’t quite use the word ‘good’ yet…). The thing with resting together as a family is that it creates space and memories and little family rituals which our kids (and us) enjoy and love! It becomes our safe breathing place. 10 years from now these moments will be what we remember and not the email(s) and work we left to do 24 hours later. Thank you for this post. It’s timely for us too.
Absolutely! Thanks Michelle.. Yes, the memory making and fun and celebration has been a huge motivation for us. Great to know you’re in this with us 😉
You know in your gut that you are getting it wrong when this flips your stomach which says “It’s too hard!” Really challenging but certainly going to put this in my pipe and smoke it for a while 😜 I love the fun this oozes. Makes me really want to join the brien paper doodle club xxx
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Yes, hard indeed, but we’re already seeing the benefits so going to keep at it ;)! Thanks friend… sending much love! x
What amazing timing Dee, that you should write this blog, whilst here in the UK there is a national debate raging around the subject of Christian’s making a stand against working on Sunday’s. It centre’s around the new BBC Breakfast tv presenter, Dan Walker, an avid sports enthusiast who has made no secret of the fact that as a Christian, Sunday is his Sabbath and he values it to such an extent to turn down work/sport opportunities in preference for being with his family and spending time worshipping with his wider church family. Here’s one example of the debate being played out in a popular broadsheet. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/12154442/bbc-dan-walker-christian-faith-persecution.html
Thanks for your encouragement in your blog which spoke powerfully to me on so many levels.
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Wow, incredible Alex! I had no idea. Praying for you guys as you navigate those waters in your part of the world… Sending so much love to you and your family, d
[…] my understanding of rest, and it has fuelled – for nine months and counting – our firm resolve-slash-delight in celebrating the Sabbath. It’s made all the […]