In Search of Sabbath: Finding your Rhythms

Over the last 6 weeks we’ve been searching for Sabbath in our busy lives. We identified what Sabbath is and why you’d want to practice it. We looked at what stillness  and emptying our schedule looks like and then considered things like rest, gratitude, and spiritual practices to fill the empty space. Finally, we talked about how our resting practices affect others and how we can teach others how to give us rest. Today we’re going to use these basic tools from the past weeks, pull out our calendars, and plan our resting rhythms.

Sabbath is not just a weekly thing. God talks about Sabbath being not just every seventh day, but also every seventh year, and even every 7x7 years (year 50 is the year of jubilee! Leviticus 25). How can rest play a part in your daily, weekly, and seasonal schedule? If you find yourself thinking you don’t have the luxury of establishing Sabbath rhythms because of your line of work, work schedule, kids, etc., that’s not the truth, it’s an excuse. Here’s some rest rhythms we encourage everyone to establish, plus a tip to help you think creatively if the excuses are taking over: 

  • 1 day off a week (no work allowed). Split up the day if necessary. We struggled to find a full day off with church on the weekends and homeschool during the week, so I take my Sabbath on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons.

  • 1 long weekend off a quarter. Take advantage of 3 day weekends to take a staycation or escape to a cabin/campground. I go once a year to St. Placid Priory in Lacey, WA, where they have a spiruality center for spiritual retreats. You should definitely check it out and eat lunch with the nuns!

  • 1 week off a year. The only rule is no work allowed. Don’t place unnecessary requirements on yourself that make it too hard to happen (like no kids allowed, travel to a remote place, etc). A week with the family at home can work just as well as a week by yourself on a mountain (well, maybe not as well, but you get the idea)

If you have a significant other or family:

  • 1 date night a week (no work talk allowed). Don’t think you have to go out, spend money, or get a sitter. Walking to a convenient store for an ice cream bar or an intentional evening in after the kids go to bed counts!

  • 1 family day a week. This doesn’t mean you can’t schedule anything, it just means that the things that are scheduled are with the idea of being together intentionally as a family. You may run errands together or go to a birthday party. We break our family day into Friday night and Saturday morning. Friday night is pizza and movie night, and on Saturday we do our weekly chores together!

Scheduling your rhythm is 75% of the battle. You’re most of the way there! Here’s a few more tips to get you the rest of the way there:

  • Prepare: Pull out your calendar, and for every Sabbath rhythm schedule a similar length of time immediately preceding it as Sabbath prep. Do you have Sabbath on Tuesday morning? Plan to check your schedule Monday evening to make sure you don’t have any pressing things that’ll demand your attention the next morning. If you scheduled a Sabbath week, spend the week before making sure to get ahead of or wrap up work projects, make arrangements for pets, etc.

  • Communicate: Who needs to know about your rest rhythms? Do you need to tell your boss you won’t stay late on Mondays, or arrange for your spouse to have the kids? Read more here about teaching others to give you rest.

  • Set your cues: Most parents have learned the significance of giving their child cues to direct certain action. Bathtime and reading tells the toddler that it’s time to calm down for bed. A specific song cues your child to pick up (you’re welcome for getting that song stuck in your head). Establishing some cues can go a long way in helping you maintain your Sabbath rhythms.

    • A specific place can cue your body/mind to enter a restful state. My grandparents have a beach house that was a vacation house growing up. Whenever I go there I immediately go into vacation mode. Jared had a red chair in the corner where he sat every morning for some quiet time.

    • Light a candle or use a certain oil in a diffuser. In traditional Jewish practice, Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing.

    • Recite the Lord’s prayer or Psalm 23 at the beginning of every Sabbath.

    • Invest in a nice Sabbath teapot/cup.

Our prayer is that we become a community of people who work out of our rest, rather than persevere through exhaustion. Working out of your rest does not mean you never get overwhelmed or reach the point of exhaustion. Because life happens despite the most consistent resting habits. Rather, when you reach those exhausted moments, you are well practiced in various resting practices so that you can identify what you need, know how to do it, and have trained others to give you what you need. Jared and I have learned that our measurable is the day after vacation. When we take a day off, we find that when we start back the next day we are either excited to jump back in, maybe with a few new ideas, or we are so unmotivated it takes several days before we get anything done. So, we’ve learned that if we return energized, we’re doing a pretty good job with our rest, if we return unmotivated, we need to give our rest rhythms some more attention.

Go get some rest!

Laura King