I’ve shared before (see posts here) about the impact observing a weekly Sabbath has had – it is so crucial to our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Today I’m kicking off a four week series on why we all need a Sabbath but let’s start off with the reasons we may convince ourselves we don’t need one.
Myth #1: Daily habits like multi-tasking, constant connectivity, and packed schedules produce more productivity.
This could not be further from the truth. It seems like every couple of weeks there is a new psychological, sociological, or neurological study that is coming out combatting the lie that multi-tasking works or that technology is not negatively impacting our brain (like articles here and here). We have bought in to the 21st century lie that the busier we are and the more we can cram into our daily, weekly and monthly schedules, the more we are actually accomplishing.
Additionally, countries like Sweden are discovering that people are more focused, more productive, and more creative when they work shorter days – 6 hours on average a day compared to the American average 8 hours a day. What one article actually found was most Americans waste one to two hours a day at work on either personal matters (social media, online shopping, personal phone calls, etc) or meaningless tasks (unproductive meetings, long winded emails, etc), so they most likely end up working around six hours a day anyways. Instead, Sweden is encouraging their workers to put in a true six hours – focus on work, get a lot of stuff done (single tasking, mind you), and then leave work at work and do home stuff when you’re, well, at home.
So we cram our schedules to the brim, attempting to multitask our way through our work or home day, and then comes bed time and we’re so wired from the extra caffeine, incessant technology use, and unnecessary stress in our day that can’t sleep. We either are not in bed long enough to get a full night’s sleep (the average adult needs 7 to 9 hours a night) or we lie in bed, wide awake, tossing and turning because of everything our day has held. This lack of sleep certainly does not help matters – sleep deprivation only increases stress, weight gain, caffeine consumption, as well as decreases ones ability to focus. Our bodies need true rest, our brains need breaks from high focus environments, and our emotions need time off to enjoy life and recharge.
Myth #2: Culture today dictates too much of our lives that there is no way we could ever change.
Oh man, I am sure it feels like this so much of the time! We’re given thick syllabi of assignments, work lays on task after task, and then kids come home with endless reams of homework, forms to fill out, and sports practices to attend to. And then we get stuck in traffic, the line at the grocery store is too long, and one thing compounds upon another – before we know it, the week is gone and we’re not quite sure what happened.
Dr. Richard Swenson in his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives has this to say,
“Often we do not feel overload sneaking up on us. We instead feel energized by the rapidity of events and the challenge of our full days. Then one day we find it difficult to get out of bed. Life has become a weight.”
We often begin feeling excited for the new opportunities arising – we get the work promotion, our kids begin a new after school activity, we are asked to volunteer for an amazing committee at church. While none of these things inherently are bad (though there are certainly plenty of bad commitments and time-sucks out there!), once they all compound and we don’t have down time or breathing room, we all of a sudden wake up one morning overwhelmed with our schedules and underwhelmed with excitement and energy.
I promise you, though, there is hope! We serve a good God who cares immensely about the physical, mundane things in our life including how we spend our time. And if we are faithful and disciplines to pursue this alternative way of structuring our lives, He will be more than faithful to care and provide for us in the midst of the crazy storms.
Myth #3: My pace of life is not impacting my relationship with God.
Okay, I’ll keep this one short – this is a lie! Yes, we see throughout scripture that God can break through in any circumstance or at any time. He showed up in a burning bush when Moses was least expecting it. But we also see people time and again departing from their typical rhythms of life to meet with God and to make themselves available to be used by God. Jesus took time to break from his teaching and healing to be with God (Luke 5, Matthew 14) and while we have no idea what those times where like, we can only assume that Jesus praying to and worshipping His Father didn’t detract from the ministry He was doing on earth but added to it. Jesus was willing to allow His schedule and program to be interrupted by the sick, disturbed, and needy. We also need to put ourselves in a place of being open and flexible, at rest and peace, able to respond to the calls from God whenever and however they come.
I hope you’ll join us on this journey to win back some Sabbath space – it is so worth it, I promise! Check back next Monday for part two of this series.
// What here resonates with you? How have you seen these myths play out in your life or in the lives of those around you? What are you doing to actively combat the temptations of busyness, multitasking or lack of sleep?