Taking a Sabbath rest is important … especially for moms.
By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer
I was worn down.
At this time last year, life felt busy and complicated. Between my home, the many needs of my young children, my husband’s long days and weeks at work and a discontent baby, I felt fatigued and discouraged.
Because I wasn’t getting more than a few miserably-interrupted hours of sleep each night, and because I wasn’t able to rest much during the day, because I was existing on frozen pizzas and cereal, and because my baby was still fully nursing as an eight-month-old (who has time to introduce solids?), I was struggling.
It was showing not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. My weight had gotten too low, and I was experiencing bouts of unexplainable anxiety.
I sat across the small coffee shop table from some of my closest friends at our cozy, Tuesday night accountability group meeting, and painted this bleak picture.
They asked questions and listened carefully. Eventually, one of my friends, the one who’s brood of children looks nearly identical to my own in age and number, gently asked, “have you considered having a Sabbath rest each week?”
All the reasons this simply could not happen flooded my mind. “Mitch works six days a week and we need that last day to tie up loose ends. We’ve got to do stuff!” and “No one is going to take care of my kids for me one day per week, so how could I possibly rest?”
So, I protested. It did not feel attainable. At least, not in the way I would want it to look.
Nonetheless, as we talked, I realized that maybe, just maybe, this could work… IF I was willing to let it not be perfect and IF I was willing to make it a very high priority.
Hearing about the difference it made in my friend’s life, and hearing how she made it work in spite of her little children, I resolved to try it that very week.
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How did it go?
Well, no one swooped in and took care of my kids for me on that day each week. My husband wasn’t even home to share the burden on the day I chose for my Sabbath (which, for me, was Sunday), but nonetheless, I determined to leave the laundry, dishes, sweeping and cooking where they lay, and I relaxed on the couch as much as possible. We ate more frozen pizza, and I did the bare minimum that I felt I could do.
I even explained the concept to my children so that they would understand. They seemed to get on board.
It wasn’t picture perfect. There were still diapers to be changed, snacks and meals to be dispensed, naps to put children down for, and many needs to be met on that day.
However, in spite of the messiness of it all, this one determined effort to rest each week felt like a sunrise in my life. This new rhythm slowly, steadily and beautifully delivered reprieve to my entire week as I faithfully made the effort to rest.
It wasn’t glamorous. I sat. I read my Bible or a book, and I resisted the temptation to tidy up toys. Sometimes, I was twiddling my thumbs.
But this change made a big, big difference.
That one “experiment” blew open my entire understanding of the need for systematic, rhythmic rest in my life. This matters! God knows this. He taught us that, “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man.” (Mark 2:27-28)
Sabbath was gift from the very beginning. While I do not believe we can earn God’s favor by following this law, I do think that paying attention to what God has told us about ourselves will bring inherent blessing! Who knows us better than our creator?
Do you feel tired and worn down, as I did? Are you surviving rather than thriving?
Let me urge you to choose one day each week that you will rest (or at least part of a day)! I continue to practice Sabbath, even now that life is calmer. This has become an integral, healthy part of my week. It gives me space to slow down for the benefit of rest, being with my family and hearing God speak.
All you need to do is make a simple plan. Ask yourself, “what will I say no to on this day? What will I say yes to?” Hint: those yeses should be things that give you life, are restful and refresh you! I’ve discovered that having a specific plan helps me to be committed and successful.
If you would like some guidance with this process, I would love to help. In order to resource you, I’ve created a free Sabbath Planning Guide course, complete with a printable guide, printable scripture cards, audio teaching and a list of 55 creative ideas for your Sabbath. Get instant free access here.
Brilliant. And so simple. Thanks for the encouragement!
What happens with busy weekends? Some weekends are just jumping between church to b day parties, etc. What do you do on those weeks?
I love this because recently I have chosen to sleep more on the weekends. There are so many things to do but my body NEEDS the extra rest. Somehow taking the time to rest helps me feel less overwhelmed with every day life.
This is one of the things I am working on this year. After years of feeling guilty about taking time to rest, but still being unproductive, I am trying to find the balance between working hard, getting stuff done, and resting and taking ‘me time’. I have finally come to the realisation that nobody is capable of ‘doing it all’ (thanks in part to various bloggers who are keeping it real on their blogs, and showing the everyday mess in the trenches,not just the Pinterest-y staged pics!). I am learning how to make priorities and then how to actually follow those priorities with the things that I do throughout the week – and being ok with the things that are left undone! I look forward to diving into your course on Sabbath rest!
Dena Norton | Back To The Book Nutrition
I love this, Katie – thank you for sharing! Not long ago, we began to observe the Sabbath as a family and the whole family LOVES it and longs for it as it approaches each week. The Lord has done some wonderful things in our physical beings as well as our spiritual lives through Sabbath that we have never experienced before. I’ve heard it said that Sabbath is “a sanctuary in time” where God meets with people, just as he does in the Temples and Churches that operate as his “sanctuary in space” – that has definitely been our experience, and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in Sabbath to give it a try!
Hi, I am so happy that you have found the blessings that pour out from the sabbath rest. The sabbath is the mark of our creator celebrating and resting after 6 days of creation. It is one of the first two institutions created in Eden (the other being marriage). I encourage you to study more about the biblical seventh day sabbath and it’s meaning and importance in our lives. I am a busy mom of kids all under 3, and in our home sabbath preparation is what our weeks are centered on and it has made all the difference! Sundays, I plan out my weeks menu, Monday I do groceries (stores seem emptiest then). Wednesday–I spend about 2 hours (usually naptime or late evening after kids are in bed) doing a weeks worth of cooking/meal prep–it’s really not a daunting as it sounds and is usually done in under 3 hours including cleanup (sometimes the hubs assists with cleanup :). And Thursday’s I devote naptime/after bedtime to all the major cleaning–bathrooms, kitchens, floors, etc. Each other day, I tidy and do at least one load laundry to keep things “afloat” and Friday’s are spent sprucing and maintaining Thursday’s work and whatever little laundry catch-up there is–but by Friday evening at sundown we are in sabbath mode–we usually take a walk to local park with picnic (prepped already on Wednesday) and have family worship time. That evening after kids go to bed–there is NOTHING to do. Hubs and I get to talk, read/study (spiritual recharge) or just go to bed early for once! Sabbath morning we go to church (feed kids at church) –they usually passs out in car on way home, get transferred to beds for naps (about 90% success rate). And we nap too!!! The rest of afternoon is just plain family time. At sabbath sundown, we have another family worship and are recharged for the new week ahead. After sundown the times of year that sundowns earlier than our bedtimes (8ish), we head out for a special treat like ice cream. God designed us to labor for 6 days and rest on the seventh. I can’t imagine our lives without the Sabbath! With a little planning, it really can be done and actually makes rest of week easier! Try it and most of all study it!
Sabbath is on seventh day not first.
Praise Yahshua for truth!