Even though we have a pretty good grasp on what things generally are restful and/or worshipful for us, not every Sabbath is a home run. Each week is a process of trial and error, and things that may be restful one week may not be the next.
If you’re interested in learning more of the “Why” behind this for us, check out our breakdown of Sabbath here. Essentially, determining if something “fits” into our Sabbath boils down to two questions.
Is it rest?
Since Sabbath is a day of rest, the point is to NOT do work. If it is not restful, it doesn’t belong in our Sabbath. This is one of the biggest learning curves for us, as the idea of true rest was foreign to us when we started out. Rest doesn’t mean lazy or sleeping (though they can be a part of it!). True rest should recharge us mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally.
Is it worship?
Some things fall easily into this bucket, like going to church or doing a devotional. Other things that could be worshipful though could be going for a walk in nature, spending time with Alyssa in deep conversation, or playing music on the piano and singing. Believe it or not, binge-watching Stranger Things didn’t pass this test for me. Is it a fun show? Absolutely. But is it worship? Not so much, save that for another time!
One of the most helpful rhythms we have found around Sabbath is what we call our Pre-Sabbath checklist. We have a list of things that we like to accomplish prior to our Sabbath, that will help us to relax and not worry about the “little things”. Take at peak at our checklist over on Etsy, and see if it’s something that would be useful for you and your family as well!
Knocking these things out means that we can truly rest, and our Sabbath doesn’t unwittingly turn into a get-things-done-around-the-house day.
How (not) to Sabbath
For Alyssa and I, we have a number of things that we have found to impede our ability to rest and worship. First, screens can get in the way and distract from true rest. At times, watching a show or a church service online can be a great part of our Sabbath. But more often than not, screens lead to shallow conversations and just “vegging out”. While this seems to fit the idea of rest, afterwards we are not any more recharged or rested than we were before.
For our Sabbath, we turn our phones to silent and leave them upstairs and out of sight. If we need to check on something (plans with someone else, the weather, etc), they are there to use and then set back down. Keeping these out of sight leads to better engagement with each other and with the activities we DO decide are restful. This is a great one to try for a night a week, even if you are not “practicing Sabbath”, and you may be surprised how much deeper a conversation can go!
So what DO we do?
Like I mentioned, this can change a fair bit from one week to the next. Some weeks, we can find it hard to get in the right mindset to rest and worship. Maybe it’s just been a crazy week of work. Maybe we are just cranky or getting on each others nerves. Whatever the reason, this is the first challenge we have to overcome each week. Our ideal Sabbath schedule goes from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. This means that we can start our Sabbath by going to the 4 pm service at Eagle Brook. Taking this time to focus on God and on worship can work wonders to change our negative moods.
Our Sabbath almost always involves some kind of special food or drinks. Most weeks, we get something “fun” to go with our normal breakfasts (english muffins, donuts, cinnamon rolls…). Or maybe we grab ice cream Saturday evening and sit outside for a while. Sometimes, it’s a batch of popcorn with M&M’s while we watch a movie. Treating ourselves with something fun like this makes Sabbath something we can look forward to!
Just Try It
One of the quickest ways to prevent true rest though is to overthink or just give up on it. At first, 24 hours seemed like a HUGE sacrifice of time to not work. How are we supposed to keep up with everything that needs to be done? We are already busy working 7 days a week, won’t we be overloaded if we cram that all into 6 days?
As we continue to work on being restful and intentional with our Sabbath time, we have seen over and over again the major flaw in that thinking. Taking a true Sabbath break for a day is NOT a waste of time. It’s not lazy or meant to inhibit what we can do or succeed or complete. Building that true rest into our week means that we are fully recharged and ready to accomplish the things we need to and want to. Our tank is full (or much closer at least), and we are ready to take on the week ahead.