Practicing the art of rest is tough. Yet, the older I get, the more I realize how important rest is to maintaining health in all areas of life.
For the past year, my husband and I have practiced a Sabbath rest one day a week. We haven’t done it perfectly because it’s hard to do.
Most people equate the word sabbath with going to church on Saturday or Sunday, depending on your religious affiliation. While I understand that, going to church doesn’t mean you are practicing a Sabbath.
I’m not going to get into a theological discussion here about whether or not Sabbath is required. I’m more interested in the benefits of practicing a day of Sabbath, or a day to rest and rejuvenate.
In our fast-paced world, we don’t stop long enough to be quiet, let alone sit in silence.
Rest is a foreign concept.
We blast the radio, listen to podcasts, watch television, and play our favorite music throughout the day. All good things in moderation. Yet, if we never turn everything off and allow some silence into our world, we are harming our body, mind, and soul. A quick Google search on how silence affects the body returns 3.26 million results.
- Relieves tension and stress
- Lowers hypertension
- Replenishes our mental capacity
- Increases our creative ability
- Regenerates brain cells
For many of us, there’s a problem with silence.
Nick Seaver’s said, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don’t like to go there alone.”
I’ve been there, afraid to be alone with my thoughts. It’s an unnerving place because you realize how screwed up you are. And, now that you realize this, you must make a choice about what to do about those screwed up things. Do you choose to live where you are? Or, do you choose to go through the acute pain to change?
But there’s another struggle with choosing to rest.
Do you ever say things like:
- I can’t take a day off, I’d never get caught up
- There’s too much to do
- If I don’t work long hours, someone else will get ahead
- My boss requires me to work 80+ hours a week
- If I don’t do it, who will
- The laundry won’t wash and fold itself
- Who can afford to take a day off?
- I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not working
- All I do is work
You probably have a few more similar statements fly out of your mouth from time to time.
Behind these statements are fear and pride. Fear because you worry that someone will get noticed instead of you or will get ahead of you. Pride based on how hard you work and your view of your personal importance.
When Dave and I decided to intentionally take a full day to stop working, turn off the electronics, and refocus, the resistance began with a vengeance.
There were requests for help with a project, opportunities for new work, medical emergencies, family crises, and a myriad of other conflicts. Besides these things, we literally had withdrawal symptoms from no access to our computers, social media, and email. Turns out this is normal.
These days, with all the time spent using electronic devices, we are literally addicted to our smartphones and social media. We justify extended time on the internet because we feel connected to others, we can get lost in another world, and we explore and learn about anything that interests us. Often we lose track of time “staying caught up on our friends’ and family members’ lives.” Has anybody else experienced this? Maybe it’s just me. The problem isn’t the smartphone, the internet, or social media; the problem lies squarely with you and me taking responsibility for our actions and behavior. There are many articles about this addiction. Wait, I got sidetracked again.
You know what? You can stay off the internet and social media for a whole day. It is possible. But it takes a conscious decision to practice the art of rest.
Here’s how I practice the art of rest:
Work hard for six days.
There’s a biblical principle here. Work is good for you and me. We are designed to work hard and need to do so. We find fulfillment in a job well done. If I spend six days of my week doing my best to accomplish the tasks at hand, it is easier for me to take a day off, to disconnect from social media and email, and relax. I can tell my mind, that races through all the unfinished tasks, that they will still be there tomorrow when it is time to work again. However, today is a day to rest and rejuvenate.
Trust God to take care of your to-do list.
Remember that pride thing I mentioned earlier? We cannot learn to rest if we believe everything in our life is dependent on us. This is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing. But, it is a reminder that all things in your life are under God’s control. Even your to-do list. ? Taking one day a week to set aside your to-do list requires you to trust God to work on your behalf without your assistance. It is a conscious decision to release control to Him. A funny thing happens when you do this, you’re not as anxious.
Back up my computer and turn it off.
Yup, Dave and I do a back-up in the morning and then turn off our computers. It’s a good practice to do a routine back-up. Anyone who’s had a hard drive crash without a recent back-up understands this. It’s a hard lesson to learn. But it’s more important to actually turn off your computer. Then, if you feel the need to check something, you have to wait for the computer to turn on and log in. For me, there’s this sense that it will take too long, so it can wait. A small dissuasion, but whatever works.
Turn off the ringer on my phone and set it aside.
Honestly, this is harder to do. However, I have my phone set up to allow critical calls from family to ring through even with the ringer off. Therefore, it’s easier to set it aside. The other part of setting the phone aside is not checking social media. No excuses. This attacks my FOMO—fear of missing out. The world will go on if I don’t check Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.
Choose activities that build relationships.
Practicing rest doesn’t mean staying in bed all day, though naps are on the agenda most of these days. It doesn’t mean you spend the day bored out of your skull. But, it does mean identifying activities that allow you to connect with others you care about. Go for a walk, play a table game (no electronics. That’s cheating ?), have a coffee date, or go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with friends. The key is to find activities that allow you to spend time with the people who matter most to you. Face-to-face time is critical.
My challenge to you this week is to schedule a day to practice the art of rest within the next seven days.
No technology. Lose the to-do list. Turn off social media.
Clear your schedule of regular activities, then plan a few fun things. Just make sure those things allow you to rest and rejuvenate.
Maybe you and your spouse decide to try out that new restaurant you’ve been eyeing.
Or, perhaps you and a friend meet for coffee or go for that hike you’ve been planning for six months.
Whatever you do, make sure it has nothing to do with work or normal activities. Discover the joy in practicing the art of rest.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.