I remember being a young bride, coming off the adrenaline rush of a busy ministry home and the constant flurry of high school activities. I recall my new husband coming home from work, exhausted, while I was ready to run all the errands I wanted him to run with me and have all the conversations I had bottled up through the day. I didn’t value rest properly, because I had not yet embraced the idea of sabbath fully.
I remember when our first child came along, and it was me who was exhausted. She slept through the night by about 3 months old, but made up for it during the day. I could never count on predictable naps, and I remember sitting on the floor in tears just wishing she would go to sleep. I still did not embrace sabbath because I didn’t know it was possible.
After 13 years of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, I wish I had embraced this sabbath rest all along the way. To be honest, I think it is a process. It is learning to work together in marriage to give each other the rest we need to recharge and cherish this life. It is training our children that we love them dearly, but they are not the center of the universe. It is learning that it is okay to rest and perpetual busyness is not a virtue but an unhealthy state.
In my life, sabbath has become more than a religious tradition. It is an essential part of my day, my week, my month and my year.
Yes, I see you in my mind, the woman who is overwhelmed with work deadlines, housework and feeding your family on a budget.
I see you, mama with babies, who slept 2 hours and 33 minutes last night scattered over an eight hour period.
I know, mama of toddlers, how many fits you’ve endured today and how the stranger glared you down while you loaded groceries into the car with a flailing child under one arm.
And I know, homeschooling mama, how you’re homeschooling three or more grades at a time and wonder how you’re ever going to keep it all straight and graduate responsible children.
I have been or am all of these things, and I know I have a long way to go since we haven’t even made it to high school yet in our homeschool. And I believe that regular rest is essential to being a healthy woman in all areas of life who can cherish that life she’s been given.
Here are a few things I have found to help me, imperfectly though it may be, to accomplish rest:
1. Create daily sabbaths.
I could not make it through my busy days without daily periods of rest. I call them my personal hours. They are three hours (give or take on the actual time) a day which I regularly set aside for my own spiritual, mental, emotional and physical recharging. That probably sounds indulgent. You might think I have a part-time nanny. No, I can assure you that these daily sabbaths are possible for just about anyone.
2. Maintain a weekly sabbath.
The weekly sabbath was created by God for His people, a gift to them. Different religions over time have adapted it to their own tradition. Even those who rejected God understood the necessity of a day free from work to recharge one’s body and soul. Our family has discovered the gift of the weekly sabbath. To us, it is not a religious restriction placed upon us, but one of the loveliest days of the week to rest and spend time together and with our Creator.
3. Retreat on a yearly basis.
This is something which has transpired over time. My husband and I love to be together. We love to do things as a family. We do kid dates and “guy trips” and “girls’ nights” with our kids. However, there are a few things that only I like to do and a few hobbies that only my husband enjoys. While we realize these must be limited in order to not neglect our families, each of us take a twice yearly time off to enjoy what we love. This requires working together, but we have found we are the better for it and the kids find unexpected benefits as well.
Over the next few weeks, I will walk you through my day and week and year. I know you are not like me, but I hope if you are struggling to cherish life that you can glean a few ideas to build rest into your days. From that perspective, your soul can breathe enough to appreciate the lovely people, things and rituals in your life.
Resources to help you Rest:
My own words in the Sabbath Pause series:
Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Kerri Wyatt Kent
Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae
And, best of all, the words of Jesus:
Matthew 11:28“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”King James Version (KJV)