Sabbath Rest: How to Get Started

Being able to rest, to have a regular rhythm of time to recharge, is so crucial for our emotional, physical and spiritual rest. When we pause for a couple hours, days or even weeks, we are surrendering the control we think we have and choosing to trust that the God who created the heavens and earth is trustworthy enough to hold our to do list and responsibilities in the palm of his hand. Taking time of is also proving more and more important for our emotional and creative health (here’s a great Ted talk on this subject).


As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about this topic! My husband and I have been observing a weekly day off for about a year now and it is such a rich time to slow down, take things a little easier, and recharge for the week ahead.

So, where to begin?

  • Pick one day a week. A and I both work at our church which means Sundays (the day Christians typically assume is their Sabbath) are not days off but instead are days we’re “on”. Because of this, we observe our Sabbath day off from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. If you can’t pick a whole day to begin with, start with a morning, afternoon, or even two hours. Are you a mom with young kids? Maybe you can trade childcare with another mom where they take your kids one afternoon for a couple hours and then you take their kids the next week? Or maybe you take one of your lunch breaks a week to, instead of working on other projects or running errands, you can read a fun book or grab lunch with an encouraging friend?
  • Figure out what makes you energetic. What gives you life? What did you enjoy doing as a kid in your free time? Do you like to bake or be outdoors? Do you like to read cheesy young adult books (no shame there!) or slowly drink coffee on your back porch? If you spend a majority of your work days in an office, in front of a computer, then you might want to spend your Sabbath outdoors or doing something physically, getting your hands dirty. However, if you spend your time out of the house, putting in long commutes or doing a lot of manual labor, a day off means taking long naps and watching a really good movie.
  • Have grace with yourself. These transitions take time. Perhaps your next four weeks are already so scheduled and you can’t possibly get out of these commitments, which means you must then sit down with your spouse, kids, or roommate and look at the possibilities of taking a day off five weeks from now. And some weeks may be easier to make this work than others. But trust me when I say it is so important! It will be worth it! But you have to have grace with yourself in the process.
  • Stand in the long line. Cardiologist Dr. Meyer Friedman, one of the first to describe the type A personality, offered this practical advice to his patients (from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives) “Practice smiling. Purposely speak more slowly, stop in the middle of some sentences, hesitate for three seconds, then continue. Purposely say, ‘I’m wrong’ at least twice today, even if you’re not sure you’re wrong. Listen to at least two persons today without interrupting even once. Seek out the longest line in the bank. Verbalize your affection to your spouse and children.” The purpose of this is to have enough space and freedom to slow down, to create breathing room, to take in the sights and sounds around you. It’s crazy how shallow our breath can be during the day as we race from one thing to the next – find the ways to rest and create breathing room in your life, one Sabbath a time.

// What causes you to recharge? What do you love to do in your free time?


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