THIS IS A TWO-PART BLOG POST WHERE I INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME IN TWO VERY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON HOW TO USE OUR TIME WISELY. PART 1 IS INSPIRED BY THE BOOK 168 HOURS AND I FOCUS ON TAKING A CRITICAL LOOK AT HOW I ACTUALLY SPEND MY TIME. PART 2 (this post) WILL FOCUS ON WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE FOR MY FAMILY TO TAKE A WEEKLY SABBATH, TAKING INSPIRATION FROM THE BOOK SACRED RHYTHMS.
Why A Sabbath?
At the same time I was reading the book 168 Hours, I was also reading the book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. It’s a book about spiritual disciplines, like the practices of prayer, solitude, self-examination, and Sabbath. Some books on spiritual disciplines can make you feel guilty for not doing all the practices all of the time, but I appreciated that this one didn’t. It asked you to reflect upon which practices might be most helpful to your spiritual development at the current moment.
When I got to the chapter on Sabbath, I immediately had the thought I always do, which is “who can actually have the time to do a Sabbath these days?” I have been wrestling for years with the idea of reserving one day a week for a Sabbath, but have always felt like there was too much to do to make it a reality.
Back in Bible times, the Sabbath meant that people stopped working from Friday evening until Saturday evening, a full 24 hours. It was a hearkening back to the 7th day of creation when the Bible says God “rested.”
For me, the Sabbath means that I am giving back to God my time, and I am trusting him with it. I trust that I can spend 24 hours not working or checking things off my to-do list, and that everything is still going to be okay. It definitely felt like a discipline because this ended up being a very hard thing to do – as I mentioned in my last post, I already don’t have enough time to get everything I want to accomplish done. Could I really give up one day a week, to just relax and rest?
I decided I wanted to try.
In her book Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton makes two points about the Sabbath that I thought were critical:
“Sabbath is not solitude – it’s a time for being with family and loved ones”
“Sabbath is a time for whatever delights or replenishes you”
The point of Sabbath is not to focus on all the things you can’t do. It’s to take 24 hours and only do things that bring you energy and joy, to focus on the things that really matter (the Quadrant II things!) It should be a time that you look forward to each week, a whole day of things filled with the purpose of delighting you!
When I thought of Sabbath that way, I desperately wanted it. It’s so easy to feel burned out at the end of each day, and for go-getters like me, it can actually be nearly impossible to force myself to relax. I always find things I could or should be doing, instead of doing something fun or relaxing. And as my last post taught me, I often spent more time on chores and cleaning the house than I did on quality time with my family.
Choosing Our Sabbath Activities
Before trying out a day of Sabbath, I decided our family would need to decide what Sabbath looked like for us. What kinds of things delighted and replenished us?
I knew what didn’t replenish me, I quickly made a list of things to avoid:
- social media
- budgeting/other administrative tasks
Then I thought about things that would bring me joy or rest and came up with this list:
- family outings
- spending time with friends
I loved the freedom to be able to interpret the concept of Sabbath on an individual level. What is restful and delightful for some, won’t be for others. In general, I wanted our Sabbath to focus on family time activities, as well as personal “me time” activities that I can’t always find time to do during the week.
I wanted to mostly avoid screens during this time, but decided to make a few exceptions to that rule. For example, our Sabbath begins on Friday around 6pm, but that is when we typically have our traditional pizza/movie night. Since it’s something we are doing all together as a family, I decided it can count as a Sabbath activity. For Dean, video games are something he considers delightful, so we decided to allow him time to play, as long as it was something he could enjoy with the whole family.
Once I had set up the ground rules, I realized I was going to have to work a little harder on the days leading up to our Sabbath to make sure we could actually enjoy the day. Normally, we would do laundry on Saturday, so I had to make time to do it earlier in the week. We also usually do grocery pick up on Saturday mornings, and so now we would either have to do it Friday afternoon or wait until Sunday.
Friday afternoon before our first trial Sabbath, I spent a lot of time cleaning the house and putting away clutter. But I was enthusiastic about it. I was ready for a whole day to not worry about cleaning or chores or other boring “adulting” tasks.
The Sabbath Begins
We kicked off our Sabbath watching Star Wars: A New Hope and eating pizza. We put Calvin to bed, and as the evening wrapped up, it didn’t feel that much different from a regular day, except we avoided social media.
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