Three how's we never learned about Sabbath rest

Here're three things I bet most people don't know about how to experience Sabbath rest:

1) To rest deeply you must be active.

Activity is usually seen as the enemy of rest. I rest because I'm tired, because I'm crashing. I just want to flop on the couch, open the laptop, and listen to Radiolab while playing Desktop Tower Defense. And this is restful (to a degree).

Sabbath rest is about ceasing our work-activity. We can't work all the time. We need breaks. That's true.

But Sabbath rest is also a space in the life-work rhythm for renewal, refreshment, recharging. When my phone battery is drained, it's not enough to just stop using it. I have to plug the thing in.

Sabbath rest requires us to be active. I often cook (Arroz con Pollo esta semana). The work of chopping and seasoning is a nice change of pace from the work of listening and counseling. There's an end to it! When you work with people, your work is rarely done. Active Sabbath rest allows me to finish something.

When I have passive, sit-on-the-couch Sabbaths, I may come back to the work-week physically rested, but there's rarely a dent in my emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Find a way to be active (take pictures, build something, fix something, master something).

2) We must adapt our rest over time.

I don't rest the same way I used to. Five years ago, rest looked like hanging out in Barnes and Noble, drinking a raspberry mocha and reading a good book.

Now, I live in a place that's far from Barnes and Nobles, I don't want to drop the money on a mocha and I'm married. Solo rest is much more rare.

So, I need to adapt. How do I rest with a wife? on an InterVarsity salary? in Buena Vista? There are answers to those questions, but I have to be creative.

My friend, Robert, commented on yesterday's post about the way having a child has changed his experience of Sabbath (I'm still thinking about your question, Robert). I can really empathize with him, because I had a similar experience after Amy and I married. What worked before wasn't working now. I was happy for the change, but struggled to regain the spiritual ground I'd taken before.

Often, I think, our restlessness is due to a failure to adjust to change.

Adjusting can prove difficult. It requires planning, strategy, introspection. It takes time and energy and even though you regain in the long-term what you lose in the short term, it often doesn't feel worth it. But it is.

This blog represents a small bit of this change in my life. Shifting to writing daily was a big shift and has been huge for my spiritual life, forcing me to go deeper with my thinking and to reflect of God and his word every day. It was a creative idea (thanks, Abby) and, without a lot of effort, I've been able to find a structure that allows me daily rest even in the rhythms of married life.

Will it continue to work after the baby is born? I don't know. If it doesn't, I'll have to adjust.

3) We need to rest in community.

The last how-to item on my list has to do with community. As an introvert, I usually think of community as an enemy to my rest. "Oh, what's that, Baby? Dinner tonight? With the _______?" usually spells an exhausted "me."

But our community can deeply impact our experience of Sabbath rest. If my co-workers know and accept that I won't answer my phone, I'm more likely to rest. If folks will cover for me, I'm more likely to rest. If my community is concerned and cares about if I'm rested, I'm more likely to rest.

Sam and Wendy both expressed concern for me in the last week about my restlessness. There wasn't any condemnation in their voices, no "You've been neglecting the Sabbath, sinner." Just, "You look tired" and "Are you okay?"

In a world that demands more and more, don't stop until the work's done and pay no attention to the fact that it will never be done, we need a community that will help us rest. We need people who will rest with us (play cards, vacation, hike) and who will help is with the creative work of resting.

We can't do it alone. In this, as in most things, we need community.

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