Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Sabbath Experiment: Who has time to rest, really?

Monday mornings were always the worst.

Exhausted, I'd pull my dragging body and tired mind out of bed at the coaxing of my generous husband who needed parental relief from looking after our small boys so he could leave for work.

As I'd shuffled down the stairs, the rat race we'd been running the day before simply just continued right where we left off -- with mountains of laundry, overflowing sinkfuls of dishes and a busy calendar.

The days of the week felt like one long blur interrupted nightly by a few hours of rest. Weeks blended into months and months into seasons, and I'd often wondered why time seemed to be spinning out of control.

Though I'd been consciously cutting down on our number of committments and responsibilities since the beginning of 2011, I still felt so tired -- like I was never rested.

So a few weeks ago when we began our fourth quarter of Vantage Point3 - The Emerging Journey course we've been engaged in for the past six months -- I audibly laughed at the topic of our study material for the week: Taking a Sabbath.

I thought to myself, well, I'll do the reading, I'll do the homework, but I simply could not implement the practice of taking a rest for 24 hours out of each week because I couldn't even accomplish everything I needed to do during the week as it stood.

If I lost a day to rest every week, how exhausted would I then become? I'd never be able to complete all of my tasks. There weren't enough hours in the day to begin with.


As I carefully tread into the reading material, I found myself simulataneously wanting to enter into this beautiful idea of Sabbath rest once a week while also resisting it and labeling it unrealistic.

In our workbooks, the authors compiled a self assessment of warning signs for burnout. I thought I was doing all right, as I'd only checked three, but one check mark stood out, bolded, dug itself into my chest and buried itself deep in my heart:

A frequent friction with family or friends {easily frustrated or angry, easily impatient}

Of those three descriptions, I've consistently struggled with frustration and impatience; both have been a moment-by-moment battle since trekking into this beautiful, but tiring jungle of motherhood.

I continued to read about Sabbath with that check mark firmly imbed in my heart: the impatience, the frustration with the people I love so much largely stems from being so busy, from being so unrested.

If I lost a day to rest every week, I'd never be able to complete all of my tasks.

But perhaps by losing a day to rest, I'd be gaining something much more valuable, much more precious than cleaned laundry and a tidy house and fulfilled responsibilites:

Perhaps, I'd gain patience and peace and love within in the mess around for the people I loved the most.

Maybe that would be worth never being able to complete my lists.

And, thus, began my Sabbath Experiment.

There's too much to write about in one post, so I'm going to detail this lovely but counter-cultural, against-the-grain-of-Western-life journey into a designed day of rest in segments.

Part Two will detail why we need a Sabbath and how to determine why we need one.

Part Three will explain logistically how we as a family essentially ditched an entire day from the calendar week amid our extremely busy schedules and designated it for rest, worship and family {and some ideas for how to implement your own}.

{Maybe there will be more parts as we continue our Sabbath experiement.}

In the meantime, I will share just a few things we've discovered after having successfully completed two weeks of taking a Sabbath rest {we're in the midst of preparing for our third as I write}:

Our house has never been cleaner.

Our to-do lists have never been more managable.

Our kids have rarely been so agreeable.

And I have NEVER felt so ready for a Monday morning as I have during these last two weeks.


And I've rarely felt such a tendancy toward patience and peace.

It's not been perfect or extremely easy, but my body and my mind and my heart {oh my heart} have fallen into this beautiful rhythm of Sabbath-infused life.

And I wonder how on Earth it could have taken me so long to enter into this rhythm for which my soul, my body was designed.

I look forward to sharing this journey.

{If you have any specific questions you'd like me to {try really hard to} address {from my so-far-novice-vantage-point} will you either leave it in the comments or send email me so I can be sure to ponder them before I write the next segments?}