I’ve been meaning to do a study on the Sabbath and some reading. This is still on my list. Most would agree that the ten commandments are still worth following. We did an experiment at Confirmation preparation classes recently, asking that very question, and then spun them out with, “But what about the Sabbath?”
What about the Sabbath? Why don’t we do this anymore? In the Old Testament, it was a huge deal with massive consequences for disobedience. I’m not going to answer that question; I need to do more work before I can even begin.
But I do want to ask, “Why don’t we rest?” Especially as we head toward Christmas and the hard slog until the end of the year (my colleagues and I are setting our collective jaw for this until we close down over Christmas and New Years), rest keeps getting pushed aside.
For me, recently, this has been to my detriment, and to the relationships around me. While I was doing MTS, I worked hard at guarding my day off, and the times I did actually plan something ministry or work related on a Saturday ended up breaking me down and sending me into panic attacks and hyperventilation. It’s beginning to happen again. I’ve been tired, withdrawn, emotional and lacking energy. I barely even have the energy to pretend that I’m fine.
Coming up to this weekend and looking at my diary was again making my chest feel tight and sending me into a crumpled heap on the bed, wishing it would all go away. I keep looking to points in the not too distant future, which seem so far away at the time, to when the things making me feel this way will be gone and done.
And so I started crossing things off in my diary. Practicing saying, “no.” Putting my work away until later so that I don’t have to look at it. And the pressure started easing off. This weekend, I’ve said “no” to most things. I had to. I think I need to practice this more regularly, so that it doesn’t get to the point where the very idea of having another responsibility makes me want to hold on to the wall so that the weight of it doesn’t crush me.
And I’ve given myself permission to rest. To not feel that I’m wasting my time by not working. We make ourselves believe (the world also tells us this) that rest is waste. A day off isn’t using time wisely. A day off is a chance to fit everything in that the weekdays can’t. We are deceived.
But it’s times like these, when I guard the day off that I realise just how very valuable they are. Rest shouldn’t just happen the times we plan holidays or get away. God created us to rest. Even he rested. And he has redeemed us through Christ for an eternal rest when he returns. We know this is good, and something to look forward to. But this shouldn’t be the only rest we look forward to. Regular rest makes us more useful when we work. Our “no”s give value to our “yes”es.
Rest looks different for everyone. I, as an introvert, need to keep good chunks of time free when I don’t see or talk to anyone. I love spending time with friends, but sometimes I just can’t. I am also sensitive to noise (one of my autistic tendencies), so even watching TV or a movie isn’t particularly restful. Currently, I’m sitting on my balcony and (was) reading – the lawnmower across the road is ruining the serenity, but this has become one of my favourite places to rest and be refreshed. Last night, I soaked in the bath and read a book (I even left the door open so that I didn’t have to have the exhaust fan on).
One of my favourite questions to ask people is, “how do you rest?” I love hearing how different people are, and getting ideas so that I can keep learning. So, how do you rest?