This year just about did me in. At one point I felt on the verge of some kind of breakdown, and at the other point I was just bone weary.
Have you ever felt like that? Like the world is on your shoulders and if you sit down for even a minute, everything’s going to collapse?
Everyone has different circumstances that bring us to that point of near-collapse. For me it was a change in work schedule, having to find and train a new teammate at church, having 2 kids in school (with all the associated library book returns and forms to sign and a weird kindergarten schedule to keep track of), a weekly piano lesson that was at an awkward time, and a toddler that dropped his naps. In the midst of all that, in the evenings I was trying to exercise four times per week, write a novel and blog twice weekly.
I look back and think “no wonder I nearly lost my ever-loving mind!”
I *thought* I learned a bit at that point about building margin into my life, but it wasn’t until the week my husband was recuperating from major surgery and I was throwing 2 birthday parties in three days that I realized I hadn’t learned much at all.
The things that had worked for me before weren’t working anymore. I would turn on the TV for the boys on my home days for the length of three Paw Patrol episodes, but in that hour I felt so rushed to get everything done that I barely heard the Word that was being spoken from my phone.
So something did. I discovered the gift of Sabbath rest. Not in the legalistic “better not work on Sunday” way (which doesn’t work anyway, cuz Sundays are a work day for church staff, obviously), but in a way that has felt fresh and restful and completely a gift from God.
If you’ve ever wondered why one of God’s Big 10 Commandments is to “honour the Sabbath and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), it’s not because God needs us to turn our eyes to him one day a week. It’s because he created within us this deep need for holy rest. In Exodus 20:11 we are reminded that even God took a break. If God took a break, I think it’s rather unrealistic for us to think we don’t need to do the same!
We need to rest and be replenished, and in our culture that idolizes busyness, this deep need has been filled with Netflix and Facebook. But is that really what God intended when he created us with this need to rest?
The following are three things God has taught me during my search for a more restful rhythm.
Build a daily habit of Sabbath
This will look different for all of us, but I’ll tell you about my new daily habit. When Paw Patrol goes on, I stop working. Quiet time is no longer about getting done All.The.Jobs but about bringing my soul back to a place of rest. This changed for me when I read this article from Wendy Speake about giving God the first fruits of the day, even when it’s not in the morning.
One weekend our church library was purging old study materials, and I snagged 3 Beth Moore Bible study guides. I’ve slowly been working my way through her study on the book of James, and let me tell you, I never thought the book of James would leave my soul refreshed, but JESUS is all over that book and he is working in my heart! (Can I get an AMEN?) I still struggle to find time for this kind of in-depth study on work days (except when I’m writing or prepping my Sunday curriculum), but doing this 4-5 days a week has been SO restful.
How about you? How can you build a daily habit of resting in God in your life?
Build a weekly habit of Sabbath
Again, your weekly habit will look different from mine. Sundays tend to be crazypants in my world, so I do NOT count them as a day of rest. On Saturdays however, I have found it very refreshing to abstain from housework. Yes, the house gets pretty messy with everyone around, but I’ve gotten pretty good at turning a blind eye to it on Saturdays. I know I’ll get to it on Sunday or Monday so I’ve found great freedom in letting it go, allowing myself to spend the day enjoying life!
How about you? How can you build a weekly habit of rest into your life?
Build a cyclical habit of Sabbath
For me, this is based on my writing cycles. In May I finished the first (and second and third) draft of a novel I’d been working on for an entire year, so I sent it off to an editor and have refused to work on anything novel-related until she gets back to me. I derive great freedom from lifting my hands off the keyboard and saying “for now, I’m done”.
Unless you’re writing a book, you probably won’t have the same type of rest. But summer itself can be a great cyclical rest time – if you let it be so. When all the school and lessons and sports stop, let the peace creep in. Resist the temptation to fill it with more stuff and more busy, and let yourself simply BE for a while. When the new school year comes, you’ll be so pumped to get going, you won’t even recognize yourself!