I shared with the first week how I know God wants us to have a regular Sabbath. If you didn’t read that post, go here. Last week, we talked about when to turn off the blender: daily, weekly and yearly. Go here to read that post before you read today’s thoughts.
When I make the suggestion that we need to rest on a regular basis, I hope the thought is not so overwhelming that you are no longer restful! Finding time for rest is important and part of a balanced life, but it is a process not something else to add to your to-do list. While I still have a long way to go and I’m always a work in progress, I’ll give you some tips and tricks I’ve used to gradually get to where I am today. I hope they will be helpful to you as well.
1. Start the day right.
While many of the things we do in a day are negotiable, I firmly believe time with the Lord should be the first order of business in our day. If something has to slide, this should be one of the last things we set aside.
I won’t quibble with you about the when, but I have found that doing this first thing in the morning or at least before my children wake up ensures that I will actually do it. Time with the Lord can be a wonderful hour spent. However, if you only have 10 or 15 minutes (or less!), read a few verses and talk to him from your heart. Your day will go so much smoother! I promise.
2. End the day right.
I talked last week about the value of 7-9 hours of sleep. This is something I am definitely still working on. It’s so hard to get to bed early with the myriad of responsibilities we have!
To get to bed at a more decent hour, I start directly after supper is cleaned up. The kids get their baths and start preparing for bed. We wind down regarding screens or active play. That way they can gradually get sleepy (at least that’s the goal!) instead of rushing into bed and feeling anxious and awake.
I used to do a hundred more tasks after the children were in bed, but I have found that it is best for me to wind down gradually as well. I try to turn off screens, stop my housework and get ready for bed. I usually read in bed until I get tired, then turn the lights out instead of waiting for my “second wind”.
1. Properly prepare for the Sabbath.
While God has given us the gift of rest, we know that God has also given us the gift of work. He gave Adam meaningful work at his creation. Though work is damaged by the Fall, it can still be good and meaningful. God gives us six days a week to engage in work. I used to think that Saturday was a day off as well. Many employers allow two days a week for their employees to have off. However, I have found that a glorious and truly restful Sabbath begins when I have worked hard the other six days. It is like a reward for having done my best.
Since we go to church early on Sunday mornings, I try to choose everyone’s clothes the evening before to make the morning more restful. If I have to teach Sunday school, I also try to prepare all my materials and have them ready by the door instead of last minute before church. We usually are not home for the Sunday afternoon meal, but if I am cooking dinner, I prepare as much as possible the night before.
2. Try the Jewish tradition.
If you are not a Jew, I’m not telling you that you have to start worshiping on Saturday and embrace all the traditions of the Jewish religion. However, Jews begin their Sabbath at sundown the day before. This is such a blessing when you can do it!
I plan a light meal such as sandwiches or ordering pizza on Saturday evening when we are home. When the house is as clean as I can muster (some weeks are better than others!), I love to take a nice long soak in the tub with special bath products set aside for that night, a cup of tea and some “easy” reading. I pull out an encouraging magazine or some uplifting fiction instead of heftier reading choices. I am able to go to bed so much more refreshed and rested.
While I try to implement these tips every day and week, they are very imperfectly executed. This is largely my ideal, but reality often requires some flexibility. However, even doing these things part of the time makes a big difference in stress levels and how deeply I am able to rest.
In a few posts next week, I’ll give you some tips for how to rest alone and as a couple as I recommended in an earlier post. It may be more possible than you think!