July 29, 2013

Battling for Rest

My neglect of the sabbath doesn't just affect me but my entire household, my extended community. The pace we keep has jeopardized our health and happiness, our worship and rhythms. We belong to a culture that can't catch it's breath; rather we refuse to catch our breath. ~Jen Hatmaker
It's so easy to relax, rest, and unwind during the summer months. Still a student, I fall into this bit of bliss with little to no effort on my part. Even for those who are no longer students, summer seems to just bring a shift in priorities a little. We're slower in our working, we don't hasten to return messages as quickly, we make time to spend hours BBQing or swimming... or a variety of other activities. 

But then classes start up again, and there's the shift back. Resting gets hard. Sabbath isn't as much of a priority, but a luxury we crave. We count down the days to fall break, then Thanksgiving break, then Christmas break. It's the main function of our calendars. At least it is for several of us.

If there's one thing I've learned pretty well about relaxing and Sabbathing it's this: It's a battle. In part that's of our own individual doing. We become blind to the inner tank that reads "low" and we ignore signs of burnout or exhaustion. However, we live in culture that doesn't particularly honor the idea of taking a day off to relax. We like it, but we don't honor and follow through on it.

Ours is a culture that obsesses over busyness and productivity... to the point of overkill. People can't even go on vacation without bringing their work with them now or checking their e-mail every other hour. It's ridiculous really. Much of what we have to show for this is a steady increase in burnout, depression, anxiety, and more. Or at least that's what medical science and studies are showing more than ever. (If I'm recalling correctly, one stated that in America, doctors prescribed anti-depressants more than anything else in a given year.)

Why? I think part of the answer lies in our lack of community. In order for Sabbath to be done well, it take an effort of a community. People will not rest if they don't feel they have permission to do it. People will not rest if they don't get the sense that they should and have to do so.

Sabbath is done best with the support of community: Giving others permission to rest, enjoy, and be at peace. God gives us this permission. He even goes as far as to command it from us, because God is good and wants what's best for His children: rest. We're human, we have limitations, and God doesn't expect us to be Superman with a cape flapping in the wind 24/7.

So as summer starts to wrap up, as that shift changes back, I want the practice of Sabbath to linger on. Let's take the time to give people that permission. If we can create a space, environment, atmosphere, or event for others to help them do it, then let's do it. If we can encourage and challenge the over-worked and over-burdened, then let's do it. If we can put boundaries up for ourselves and others because God's put us in that position, let's do it. If we have the ability, power, or clout (as some of you do where you work), to free up people and push back deadlines, then do it. 

God gave us permission. He gave us this gift to enjoy. We'd be remissed to not take advantage of it ourselves and extend it to others who are in need of it too.

3 comments :

  1. Love this post. It's SO true! In today's society, busyness is so prominent. Resting is considered lazy, which is ridiculous. Everybody needs time to rest. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Right on =) Busyness has become somewhat of a virtue now... though it's wrong.

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  2. I so agree with you. Rest is so important! I have been pondering this concept as of late, in fact. It's important to work hard and make use of what God has given us, but what's the use in that if we don't take time to truly appreciate all He has done and the true value in what He's given us? It's such a simple concept yet so easy to ignore!

    Thanks for sharing, it's definitely an inspiration to me :)

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