Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Redefining Rest

So far in this series on Practicing Pauses I've focused on the little moments that slip by unnoticed - but today I'd like to examine our definition of Sabbath, as a whole day.

While there is a certain amount of consistency in the concept of Sabbath (themes of resting/not working, personal and corporate worship are common concepts) we all have a mental image of what it would look like for us. Let me tell you about my ideal day of rest: sleeping in. Waking up naturally. Sitting in bed and having a leisurely quiet time, while eating a breakfast that either I made the day before or someone else (coughAdamcough) made for me. Spending time with my family (preferably not until the breakfast/quiet time ritual is completed). Church and worship, if we're talking Sabbath on a Sunday. Going for a walk. Ending the day with a cup of tea and some journaling, and maybe discussing Deep Thoughts with Adam.

So, yeah. You probably noticed that that was an extremely self-centered day. And when I read about Sabbath in the Bible, and see that it's something God tells us to do every week, I look at my life and my ideal and then I whine about how it's not possible.

But maybe that's a good thing.

Once a month, Adam works through the weekend. Last month I decided to brave church by myself with Brooklyn and Tobin-for-the-first-time. Tobin woke me up at around 8 (a little earlier than I would have chosen, since I was aiming for the 10:45 service and while plenty of time is a good thing, too much time allows for disaster). But I got him all taken care of, then got Brooklyn (who had woken up in the mean time), and realized we didn't have anything to eat for breakfast. So I let her help me make muffins (by "help" I mean that she ate chocolate chips out of the measuring cup and put the papers into the pan), then got all of us ready and down the stairs and to church.

Tobin slept completely through the entire service (which was excellent), and Brooklyn helped out in the nursery (by collecting dropped Cheerios and being sweet and calm while everyone else turned into pumpkins*) and we got home intact and with no tears or diaper malfunctions.

There weren't any close parking spots and I was sore and tired from overdoing it the day before, so I sat in my car for a few moments after I parked, wondering how on earth I was going to get everyone upstairs at once (since leaving a small child alone in a parked car is frowned upon). But by the time I had gotten Tobin out and he was fussing and rocking while I unbuckled Brooklyn, he caught the ear of one of our downstairs neighbors, and she asked if I needed help. Actually, yes. So she carried him upstairs, making sympathetic comments about remembering the days of carseat toting (her little girl is Brooklyn's age).

I got them both fed and down for naps, and had leftovers (that sounds bad - leftovers that Adam has cooked are amazing) for lunch. I knitted while watching the first session of the 2015 IF:Gathering conference (which was awesome, by the way - it aligned with a lot of change and growth and upheaval that's been going on in my life). Brooklyn woke up happy, Tobin was content and easy to tend to, and actually went to sleep while I cleaned the kitchen and had dinner with Brooklyn. Then I cleaned the kitchen and started the dishwasher, tidied the living room, and sat down to listen to another session of IF:Gathering and write this post while I waited for Adam to get home.

There was a lot of work and not a whole lot of solitude or Instagrammable meditation - but you know what? It was a Sabbath. It derailed my norm and my trajectory, and refocused me on God and His path and His plan. And it was restful. I felt prepared to face my week, physically and spiritually. And honestly, thinking back, this is something that happens almost every time Adam works over the weekend - a day that should be stressful ends up being refreshing, instead.

So maybe one of the reasons we struggle with making time for a weekly Sabbath is because we're trying to create our concept of Sabbath, instead of asking God what it should look like in our life.

How different would your day of rest look if you allowed God to define it for you?

*like, Cinderella's stagecoach? There comes a point of tiredness or stress when all of the magic just sort of disappears from life and all you're left with is a pumpkin.

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