I’m a doer, a lover of scratching things off my list, checking all the boxes, implementing and perfecting the schedule. I’m your girl if you need something done. Multi-tasking is my jam. I make plans to make plans. I schedule time to make schedules. Organization makes me happy. Rest? Who needs rest? I live under the regime of “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Or “There’ll be time to rest when you’re dead.” (Seriously, who comes up with these sayings?!)
Until recently, I thought that being the multi-tasking, organizing, scheduling, get-stuff-done queen bee was a badge of honour. Like I had somehow “arrived” and hey, everyone! Look at how much I can get done! Until recently when we started stripping away the unnecessary, ridding ourselves of clutter, stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones. Suddenly, without the added distractions and noise that accompanies unnecessary “stuff” I have been left with a lot of time. A lot of time with idle hands. A lot of time to rest.
If you read my last post, you will know that I highlighted “more time” as one of the biggest benefits to living with less. What I didn’t mention is that sometimes, more time can be extremely uncomfortable. Especially for someone like myself who has found security and identity in being the person who gets things done. Don’t get me wrong – I love the new found space that I can experience with my family, without a schedule, without obligations looming over us. However, in those moments, when it’s just me, when my kids are occupied or sleeping, when Jeff is working late or training, when all that needs to be done is done, I get uncomfortable.
Instead of taking the opportunity to rest, I conjure up new things that should be accomplished. Instead of sitting down and reading a book just for fun, I turn to one of the many parenting or marriage or Bible study books I have on the go. Because heaven forbid that I read a book for the sole purpose of entertainment! I should at least make valuable use of the time that I’m reading and learn something! Or I will whip up another batch of homemade granola to put in the freezer because it looked like the huge mason jar of granola in the cupboard was getting close to being half empty. (But I’ll listen to a podcast or audiobook while I bake, just to be sure that I’m making best use of my time.) Someone please tell me that I’m not the only one who has trouble stopping, breathing and being! Jeff, in the beginning stages of our marriage, would often timidly come into whatever room I was multi-tasking my way through and implore, “Will you please sit down and relax? You’re making me nervous.” Now he just leaves me to my own devices, knowing that he’s much less likely to get Tupperware thrown at him if he lets me Energizer Bunny my way through life. Sorry, Babe.
I feel like this is a lot of background history to just conclude that I have trouble, serious trouble, with resting. But, if one thing has come to light above all others since de-cluttering our lives, it’s that I desperately need to stop. To rest. To be still. And most of all to know that God is God. Enter my challenge for March – to practice, no – to celebrate – Sabbath rest. (A quick definition of Sabbath, according to the Miriam Webster dictionary, is “a time of rest.” You may be more familiar with it as a Jewish or Christian observance falling either on Friday through Saturday evenings, or on a Sunday. Or, if you’re not from a religious background, you may be familiar with the term “Slow Sunday.” Call it what you will. The premise behind the word Sabbath is rest.)
Honouring the Sabbath is something as Christians we are actually commanded to do. It’s right there in the Ten Commandments, Commandment number four in fact. As modern day Christians, we often gloss over anything Old Testament. We recite the Ten Commandments once in a blue moon at church. We obviously believe that they are a good set of rules to live by. I believe that most of us would agree that commands to not murder, or commit adultery and or steal are all wise doctrines to practice. However, there are some commands that get lost in the shuffle, or diminished, to which we turn a very lenient blind eye. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, I believe, is one of them.
I’m just as guilty as the next person about worshiping at the altar of busyness. Being busy is like a status symbol. Resting? That’s for suckers. For the lazy. Yet God, the creator and sustainer of all, rested. He modeled for us what it looks like to stop, to breathe, to allow space for quiet, to worship. (Genesis 2:2-3) Somehow, though, we rank God’s command to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” as not as important as “Do not murder.” We can all get behind the injustice of murder. But not taking time to rest, to reflect on God? Meh. We’re all busy. We’ve got stuff to get done. There’s not enough hours in the day! I go to church on Sunday…what more do you want?
March is going to be a very different month for us. February was busy – brainstorming ways to live with less, physically taking the actions to reduce our possessions. I relished in the busyness of it all. There was purpose. There were goals. But this month, it’s going to be quieter. There’s going to be more reflection and pause. Jeff and I haven’t quite figured out exactly how we’re going to practically implement this period of rest. And maybe that’s the beauty of it all. I don’t have it all planned out. It’s not all neatly packaged into a scheduled time slot. Yes, I know already that this month is going to make me anxious. But I hope at the end of it, I will have allowed myself to experience the uncomfortableness of rest and come out the other side. That I will savour and embrace the Sabbath in all it’s quiet glory.