My life has been full of the necessities lately - the working (eleven days straight, today is my first day off!), the cleaning, the laundry, the taking care of a sick husband, the planning of upcoming events. I think it's good for me to have these phases when I'm just "doing" but I know the real me much prefers the "being". If I could, I'd read and write and play my guitar and catch up with friends and family all the time, rather than invest so much time in those blah daily chores.
I am certainly not a disciplined, organized, Type A person at heart - I work hard to try to be those things. Staying on top of the tasks every normal adult has to do actually feels quite overwhelming to me at times. I sort of miss being in school and being forced to read and write consistently. I can discipline myself when I need to, but unfortunately my real passions get pushed aside when life's busyness takes over. I can make myself clean a bathroom, but I find it harder to justify taking the time to read a book or play a song.
But aren't those things necessities, too? I think for me to be fully healthy, there are a few things I need. I need to be creative in some way, either writing or playing music. Preferably both. And I need to be regularly communicating with my friends and family, especially now that I live so far from most of them. Undeniably, I need to be spending time in prayer and meditation on God's Word. These are things that are the most often placed on the back burner when I'm overwhelmed, yet they are the things that keep me sane and calm and balanced.
I'm looking forward to a day off when I can rest. I think I need to rest. Wait a minute...that sounds familiar, like something I've read in the Bible. Something about resting...maybe a...commandment? We're commanded to rest? Ah yes, our loving God actually told us we're supposed to take a break. How awesome is that? We get permission to relax for a little bit.
I attended Rock Harbor when I lived in Southern California, and we went through a series highlighting the importance of this often ignored commandment. The pastors actually suggested we take a Sunday and stay home and rest, so they put on the same service two weeks in a row so half the church could Sabbath one Sunday and the other could rest the next Sunday. I prepped during the week leading up to my Sabbath, making sure I had all my homework done, my house clean, my bills paid, my errands run. Any loose ends that would have weighed on my mind were tied up during the week so that my Sabbath could be fully restful. On our Sabbath we were instructed that we shouldn't do anything considered "work". So if I actually enjoyed a morning run and was rejuvenated by it, I should do it, but in my case a morning run was something I forced myself to do that I actually hated, so I refrained. I spent the day reading the Bible, praying, writing letters to friends, talking to family, playing my guitar, learning new worship songs, taking a nap and a bubble bath, reading, and generally relaxing. We were instructed to avoid checking our email or any other form of communication that would promote work and worry. It was basically a day "turned off", a vacation spent at home.
It was incredible. An entire day with no work allowed, not even so much as folding laundry. It was definitely difficult to make myself do it, but if you're wondering if it was worth it, the answer is yes. During the following few weeks, I felt an incredible amount of peace. I was calm. The frustrations that usually caused stress simply rolled off my back. And I think it's about time I take a directed Sabbath again. Soon. The last time I did it was in 2006, and I'm thinking once every five years isn't exactly the same as once a week.
Today I have what one might call a "forced" Sabbath, the kind that comes when you haven't been taking care of yourself or sleeping enough so your immune system is crap and when your husband catches a cold, you do too. So even though I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed and I've got laundry going, I'm resting this weekend (and drinking lots of Throat Coat). I played my guitar, I read, I took a bath. I even slept in until 7 am! When we don't rest as often as we need to, our bodies (and God) put us in these forced situations where we can't do anything but rest.
Hopefully you're better at this balancing act than I am. But if there are things you've been neglecting, things you want to do but feel guilty taking the time to do, I want to encourage you to do those things today. I must admit, sometimes I choose things that are just time-wasters instead of things that nourish my spirit. For me, it's facebook, television (old episodes of Friends, The Office, and Arrested Development) and pinterest. They certainly help me relax but they do nothing to help me rest, and they don't encourage me the way a phone call with a close friend does. Incidentally, I know some people are refreshed by pinterest and facebook and whatnot, so if that is you, please take no offense. Just do what works for you.
And if you're interested in hearing some really awesome encouragement in favor of "Sabbathing", check out these podcasts. They're a great reminder to me that this commandment is a discipline designed to promote our trust in God and more simplicity in life. Highly recommended. And great listening on a day of rest.