Because life is a series of edits

Sabbath

In Church, Family on January 27, 2007 at 2:00 am

One goal I forgot to list in my goals for the new year was to enjoy a greater faithfulness to the idea of sabbath, both individually and as a family. With this in mind, we've made some changes to our weekend, and it's been good.

Actually, it's been a little surprising how good it's been. One of the reasons, I think, is that we've adapted the time frame of our sabbath to run from 5 p.m.(ish) on Saturday until 5 p.m.(ish) on Sunday rather than just all day/evening on Sunday. This is a lot more realistic for us as we're usually ready for a break by Saturday night, as well as ready to gear back up for the week on Sunday evening.

In the past, we would get up (groggily, usually because Megan and I started a movie too late the night before), go to church, come home and have lunch, put kids down for naps (and maybe sneak a little one ourselves), and then jump back into whatever we felt we needed to do while ABC babysat the girls by way of America's Funniest Videos and Extreme Home Makeover. There were no real differences in our focus or routine, and Sunday felt like any other day.

What's different now is that when 5 p.m. comes around on Saturday night, we turn off all electronic media (laptops, television, music), eat dinner, give the girls baths (we did that before, too), and then play some kind of game together before an early bedtime. With no digital toys available, Megan and I instead find ourselves in bed with a good book, usually falling asleep by 9:30 or so.

In the morning, we put on music that signals to the girls the purpose of our morning (the worship of God), and help everyone get ready for church. Our routine is roughly the same here (get ready, go to church, lunch, naps), but the difference (at least for me) is that I'm not wishing to rush through anything so I can "get back to work" as soon as possible.

Sunday morning and afternoon are then more focused on God and people (being with them in their home or in ours), time with Megan and the girls (the family that naps together stays together), or fiction reading (which is an important counter to all the non-fiction stuff I have to read), as taking away "permission" to work makes it a non-issue for me.

By the time 5 p.m. rolls around, everyone's ready to get back into our regular routine, so we have dinner together, pick up the house, and let the ladies watch their shows. After our sabbath break, Megan and I tend to be a lot more motivated to get some work done as we've held off for 24 hours, and we're a little more rested than usual as well, as our energy level supports the level of our desire to get some things done.

One thing I'm still trying to incorporate throughout all this is more of a family focus on God, whether that comes through some Bible reading together, praying as a family, singing a few hymns, or something else. It's not that the girls don't enjoy doing these things, but I always feel unprepared for the task as I may not have thought too much about it and don't want to subject my family to my "off the top" attempts at teaching them. I need to work on this, both in preparing something a little more formal, as well as in not being so idealistic when I haven't; in this case, the attempt is as important as the exegesis.

Almost a month into our new sabbath routine, we're enjoying it. Obviously, now that classes have started in earnest and time is a little tighter, we'll see how our new habits are effected, but I'm guessing we'll actually find that we need this sabbath rest more rather than less.

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  1. After being at seminary, I realized how important and wonderful having a Sabbath is. In high school and college I was always using Sundays to study. When I started medical school, I decided I wanted to continue having a good Sabbath. During my first two years I wouldn’t study on Sunday, or at least not until later Sunday evening, so I had all morning and afternoon to recharge. It was great. And I feel that God blessed it, at least in that I was always able to study enough on other days to do well as a student. I’m sad that next year, as a first year resident I’ll have much less control over my schedule and still have to work many Sundays. I’m hoping I can think of ways to find rest even during a work day.

  2. We had another good sabbath experience this weekend, actually working in some Bible teaching time Saturday night on Genesis 1 about God modeling the idea of working six days and resting the seventh.
    The biggest difference I notice is how much more rested I am on Sunday morning – a big improvement for me. When I get tired, I get selfish, and that can manifest itself not only with Megan and the girls, but also with others at church (i.e. not wanting to stick around and talk with people).

  3. Our family did something very similar throughout my childhood — the only difference being we began on Sunday morning.
    As a young child I certainly wanted to go out and play and not participate, but it instilled in me a discipline that I have carried into my adult years. Now I have a refuge from a demanding job that keeps me centered and helps me refocus on the things that really matter.

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