“My name is Jaime, and I’m chronically overscheduled.”
There might not be a twelve-step program for women like me, but I have a feeling I’m not alone.
As I’ve been praying about and reflecting on how I’d like my life to look different in 2020, the word “sabbath” keeps coming to mind. I’m not thinking of it in only the literal sense of keeping one day set apart for rest and worship (although I could use work on that as well… maybe that’s another post for another day!). What I mean is more of the spirit of sabbath: that my life, my family’s life, and our home would be permeated by a spirit of peace, rest, and worship.
5 Lessons I’ve Been Learning About The Spirit of Sabbath
Here are a few things God has been showing me about what the spirit of sabbath means in my own life:
1.) A Spirit of Sabbath Results From an Identity Securely Rooted in Christ.
What I’ve found is that my compulsion to over-schedule has resulted from misplaced identity.
Deep down, I don’t think I consider myself valuable or worthy of approval if I’m not constantly doing something. When we have people over I spend so much time buzzing around worrying about whether everyone has what they need that I fail to connect with people on a meaningful level. I think I’m afraid that if I sit down I’ll be looked upon as lazy or idle by others when in reality I think I might just end up making everyone as nervous as I am.Jaime is sharing 5 lessons God has been teaching her about the spirit of sabbath on Candidly Christian… Click To Tweet
In the past, I have said “yes” to everything anyone asked of me to the point of total burnout, all because I feel like my value to them is based on what I do, not who I am. But in doing this I override the plans God has for me (not to mention others) by saying yes to everything without consulting God about what jobs He would have me do.
Good Things Aren’t Always The Best Things…
Lately, this has been especially hard. My kids are all in school for the first time in almost 14 years. If I’m being really, brutally honest I’ll admit that the idea terrified me. I had this perception that people would know I was a stay-at-home mom with all kids in school and that my value would be diminished in their eyes because I wasn’t being productive (at least as far as “they” were concerned; whoever “they” were!).
So what did I do?
I volunteered 5 days a week in my kids’ schools.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this time in the kids’ classrooms! It has been one of the highlights of my year. But once again, I didn’t really consult God before jumping in with both feet. I just wanted to be sure I was covered and involved in activities that made me feel productive and valuable.
Sometimes I wear my busyness like a badge of honor. Sometimes it’s an excuse why my house isn’t really in order (both physically and figuratively) like I’d hope for it to be. But one constant is that my need to over-schedule chokes out the spirit of sabbath my soul longs for.
2.) A Spirit of Sabbath Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Saying No To Everything.
Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees about breaking the sabbath (Mark 3) and about His disciples reaping and eating grain on the sabbath (Matthew 12). He was very clear that sabbath “rest” didn’t always mean doing nothing.
My temptation has been that in striving for a spirit of sabbath in 2020 I need to pull back from everything and choose “no” for my word of the year. But I think God brought the word “sabbath” to mind as opposed to “no” because there are times when things that seem like work (like taking care of basic needs as the disciples did and serving others like Jesus did when he healed) can actually be blessed by God and used to restore and energize us.
God taught me a very important lesson about this a couple of years ago, and it has come back to my mind as I’ve asked Him to help me understand what sabbath should look like in my own life. I was supposed to serve in the Cold Weather Shelter our church hosts weekly in the winter months, which for my shift means being present and awake at our church one Sunday night a month from 2 am to 6 am Monday morning with a partner. I have to confess, I dread the loss of sleep each month. It can take days to recover, but knowing I’m helping families with children not have to sleep on the streets or in their cars or at more dangerous shelters makes it totally worth it for me.
I’m Glad I Said Yes…
One-day several years ago I wasn’t feeling well and had a horrible attitude about going to the shelter that night. I stopped and prayed and confessed the ugliness of my heart, and offered the time as an act of worship to God. I asked God to provide me with one interaction with someone that would have eternal value.
Typically at that time of night, I have little or no interaction with the guests at the shelter because they’re sleeping. So when a woman woke up and needed to talk that night, I considered it a direct answer to prayer. We talked and prayed and I was able to give her a Bible. I came away from that night with joy in my heart and feeling energized and renewed. I wasn’t even very tired over the following days. So saying yes to the divine appointment God had for me that day served as my sabbath. It brought peace, joy and rest for my soul, even though it involved a sleepless night and the “work” of conversation and prayer.
I’m not saying there isn’t a time to say no, and I believe as I filter my schedule through God’s priorities I will end up shedding many things I considered necessary. But I have realized that I can’t assume that a spirit of sabbath simply means saying no to everyone and everything.
3.) The Answer to My Over-Scheduling Might Be More Scheduling.
…or at least different scheduling.
I need to schedule white space.
There may come a time in our family’s life when white space and “being still” just happens, but we need to re-train ourselves first.
I think the first step is to schedule home-time and make sure that time is free from electronic distractions and full of meaningful engagement with each other, or downtime with no expectations. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like but I’m hoping it will honor the spirit of sabbath.
4.) Sabbath Involves People.
Relationships have slipped through the cracks of my over-scheduled life. I find myself putting friends off, even for phone calls or quick coffee dates. As an introvert, I don’t mind (okay I love) time alone. But if I only equate rest with alone time I think my entire family will miss out on the beautiful gift of fellowship. So I want to be intentional about incorporating people into my sabbath plans – I just need God’s help to keep it from becoming the scenario where I try to play “hostess with the mostest” and miss the point! (You can go ahead and say a prayer for me now!)
5.) The Spirit of Sabbath Can Happen In The Cracks & Crevices of Life.
Someone said that busy is a state of mind.
Sometime last year I found myself in a grocery store feeling anxious and hurried and that thought came to my mind so I stopped and realized I really wasn’t in a hurry and this time walking up and down the aisles could actually be relaxing if I let it be. I prayed something like this: “Thank you God for this time of rest. Thank you for children who are getting along and time to shop without having a pressing appointment to get to.” I took a breath and felt a spirit of peace wash over me. When we take many small opportunities like this throughout the day to simply give thanks to God, recognize a peaceful moment, or set a timer for even just a one-minute prayer, they will add up and saturate our day with a spirit of sabbath. That’s my hope and my goal for the upcoming year!
Join the Conversation
How do you like to cultivate a spirit of sabbath in your own life? Share in the comments!The spirit of sabbath can happen in the cracks and crevices of life. Find out more in this post on Candidly Christian… Click To Tweet
Related Resource For Christian Women
If you are tired, stressed out, or overwhelmed, Candid Gal, Laura J. Marshall invites you on her journey to enter into the rest that refreshes and find freedom from weariness. This is A Mom’s Battle Cry for Rest.