My Sabbath Experiment

A few weeks back I finally decided to take a Sabbath.

I have attempted this many times. Every once in a while, I get it right. But most weekends come and go without rest. I have many excuses.

They include:

“I didn’t get everything done that I needed to this week.”

“I can’t possibly just do nothing; there is so much that that I could be doing instead.”

“I feel guilty just doing nothing.”

I’ve tried Saturdays. It’s the only day I don’t have to rise with the sun. Sometimes I just lie in bed and read, or catch up with my husband while the kids are still sleeping. Once I am up though, I kick into high gear. My husband is home, and I subconsciously hope he will help me with unfinished projects around the house. This drive to get my house in order on Saturdays is likely a holdover from my childhood. Growing up, it was the day of the week we did chores, even Dad stayed close to home to tend the yard and do repairs.

Sunday is the day Christians traditionally observe Sabbath. However, it’s the day I naturally rev up for the week ahead. When we come home from church, I hold a family business meeting, reviews schedules, put car pools in place, and plan meals for the week. I still need to feed my family and clean up after messes.

I’ve heard people in ministry take Monday off. The thought of that makes me break out in a cold sweat. Monday is my high-stress day; brought on by my need to make a big dent in the to-do list I generated the day before.

I know what the Bible says about the subject, and I have read a few books great books on the topic, but taking a Sabbath wasn’t coming naturally to me. Then I heard a fantastic podcast from Megan Tietz and Kelly Gordon that dove deep into the importance of observing Sabbath and broke down just how simple it could be.

I was inspired to try again. Observing a Sabbath day would take intention. Years of experience showed me rest just doesn’t happen.

Just as there are peak work times for maximum productivity or creativity, I think there are, at least for me, days that lend themselves to “getting stuff done.” The reciprocal must also be is true. Certain days lend themselves to REAL REST. I just had to find which one was mine. Over and over again I tried to make the wrong days work. UNTIL I discovered it. FRIDAY.

I took cues from the natural rhythms of my life to choose a day of rest.

Typically, Friday is the day of the week I slow down. Magically, the things on my to-do list seem less urgent. I let myself sit down with my kids and watch a TV show. I call my husband and few times throughout the afternoon to see when he is coming home and drop hints about going out to eat.

Once I made the decision to set aside that first Friday, the way I thought about my week changed. I was more efficient throughout the week because I knew that I had one less day to get everything done. On Wednesday and Thursday, I even stayed up a bit late to take care of simple, but looming tasks, so that Friday would be in the clear. I made lasagna the day before, so I didn’t have to prepare a meal that evening.

In the past, I dreaded taking a day off. Now, I was looking forward to it.

In episode 39 of the Sorta Awesome podcast, Seeking Rest, Finding DelightKelly suggests doing the things you WANT to do, not doing the things you HAVE to do on your Sabbath. I am letting that be my guide.

Here’s’ what I did:

  • I slept in a bit later than usual knowing I had plenty of time to do my devotional after I dropped my kids off at school.
  • I took my time reading and praying. The house was quiet, and I didn’t worry about time.
  • I went to Target and Costco. Technically it was an errand. However, it became something I wanted to do because I could leisurely walk up and down the aisles. There was no rush to get home or move onto the next thing.
  • I practiced my handwriting. I have wanted to do for a long time but just never have. As a design major, we were encouraged to practice our lettering for presentations and construction plans. As a work from home, carpooling, volunteering mom, it seemed frivolous. But not on my Sabbath!
  • I read through magazines with a hot cup of tea… in the middle of the day!
  • I created a wine tasting game and quiz for a family birthday party we were hosting that weekend. Complete with tags, twine, and matching fonts.
  • I left my house early and parked in the spot I pick my kids up from school. I pushed back my seat, soaked up the sun, and scrolled through Instagram.
  • I snuggled on the couch with my kids as we watched three episodes of a series we’re binge-watching together.

My first Sabbath was a success!! I felt alive and refreshed. I also didn’t feel guilty about doing the things that I wanted to do.

For so long I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to take a day off or to pursue what gives me pure enjoyment. Instead, I avoided doing things and convinced myself that that was rest. Deep down I knew that letting myself off the hook for not getting something done was a poor substitute for rest, yet I often defaulted to it.

Instead, this time around, I acknowledged God and His divine wisdom in setting aside a day of rest. I intentionally chose a day that worked best for me. I engaged in activities that I get to do, not have to do. I relished the space that the day provided.

My Sabbath Experiment is far from over. Surprisingly, the following weeks didn’t go as well as the first day. I found that old habits still need to be broken and that I have a lot to learn about myself and what I actually enjoy.

I am looking forward to sharing with you what happened and what how I am overcoming doing life the “old” way.