But part of it has to do with me intentionally holding back.
My word for 2011 is Sabbath, and behind the scenes, this word is doing a work in me. It’s showing me that practicing the Sabbath is (often) the opposite of going to church on Sundays. Sabbath doesn’t mean sitting still, like Almanzo Wilder was taught 150 years ago. (Anyone remember the Sunday when Almanzo and his brothers dared to get off the bench where they were expected to sit each Sunday afternoon and go sledding? Their father was asleep. And they thought they had gotten away with it. Until that pig walked into their path.) Sabbath isn’t just another rule to keep, another checkmark we have to collect on our badge to get a gold star from God in heaven.
Sabbath is a gift. It’s primarily about rest, yes, but it’s a rest that celebrates. It’s a rest that delights. It’s a day to quiet our souls, to remember that God doesn’t need our striving. Sabbath gives us permission to stop being controlled by the urgent so we might tend to the important.
When we cease our daily labor, other things – love, friendship, prayer, touch, singing, rest – can be born in the space created by our rest. Walking with a friend, reciting a prayer, caring for children, sharing bread and wine with family and neighbors – those are intimate graces that need precious time and attention.Let me put it another way. God modeled Sabbath for us when he rested on the seventh day of creation. (In the Hebrew, it literally says God Sabbathed.) Do you think he did that because he was tired, because the first six days of creation were so exhausting, he needed a break?
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, Wayne Muller
(I feel like I’m in the Matrix all of a sudden. “Do you think that’s air you’re breathing?”)
The obvious answer is no. God is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need to rest. But by stopping his work (Sabbath is often translated ceasing), he took time to enjoy it. He didn’t rush on to the next thing that required His attention. He stopped. He rested. He delighted.
And it was good.
This is a hard lesson for me. I do not sit still. I do not rest well. My personality is naturally motivated by productivity. I love nothing more than crossing off items off my To Do List.
Once, I cleaned my house, did all the laundry, made a menu and a grocery list, grocery shopped and cooked a homemade dinner for Corey – all in one eight-hour time period. (Do I need to say this was before we had kids? I didn’t think so.)
It sounds silly, but that memory haunts me. It was a rush to get that much done in one day. In a sick way, I am always trying to regain that edge. I know it’s possible to get it all done, because at one time in my life, I did. I just need to push myself a little harder, multitask a little more, organize my time for maximum efficiency.
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a wise steward of my time. (That’s what I call it, when I want to make my obsession sound holy.)
But that attitude? It is Sabbath poison. Because when I’m consumed by getting things done and multitasking my life, my heart is never at rest. I am always churning, always planning, always busy.
I do not enter in to God’s rest. I do not accept God’s gift to me, choosing instead to play in the mud puddle when the ocean is just over the hill.
And that is a tragedy.
So I’m making the uncomfortable decision to hold back. To stop. To rest. To celebrate my right-here gifts. To boldly set aside the computer when my children are home, to quiet the part of my brain that is always (always) writing so I can be fully present in this momentt, to willfully neglect social media in order to read a book or go for a walk or just pray.
This is foreign to me. My attempts are halting and clumsy. But the tiny bits of Sabbath I’ve tasted have left me ravenous for more.