6 Tips On Practicing Sabbath With A Family
I have a chapter in Chin Up titled "I'm Taking Sabbath Back" (Timberlake fans feel the love!) We look at Sabbath theology and I share some stories of how God has provided while we rested. The Sabbath is an entire day set aside where we cease striving to provide for ourselves and rest in God's provision. I love how Eugene Peterson puts it: “Sabbath is uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing. If we do not regularly quit work for one day a week we take ourselves far too seriously.”
So many of my readers have started to take a day of rest but are asking the very important question: How do I Sabbath with a family? It's not like I can stop changing diapers and taking care of little ones. Oh, I get it. But we aren't called to stop nurturing and loving our children on the Sabbath. We are called to uncluttered time, to uncluttered space, to distancing ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities. We are called to rest from striving and to remember that God provides for us. So how does this work with a family?
6 Tips On Practicing Sabbath with a Family:
1. Have a Special Sabbath Toy Box. This doesn't have to be big or fancy, and this is especially for little ones. But just some set-aside toys that are special to the day of resting. This has kept my littles busy with independent play a little longer. By putting aside a few toys, this shows something about having intentionally set-aside days, times, and items. And for some older ones - this is when the x-box can be played in the long winter months or a movie in the afternoon. Everyone has some down time.
2. Prepare. It takes a bit of preparation to rest. On Friday and Saturday, we often prepare meals to enjoy on Sunday. I keep it simple: casseroles and crockpots. We usually have a casserole baking in the oven during church and invite others to join us when we get home. For dinner I keep it simple with Grandma Costco. I have purchased Costco lasagnas or made a pot roast in the crockpot or something to throw on the grill. Spending the day in the kitchen is not restful to me. As well, I ready my house and my heart. On Saturday night I put all signs of work away. Could be a broom. Could be a computer. It's time to rest. I light a candle and remember that we are hanging up hustle for 24 hours. I also look at Monday and even prepare for the week on Saturday, and try to leave Sunday free from Monday prep. Am I better at this some days than others? Absolutely. But when I free up a whole day, it’s glorious.
3. Put the phones away. If you have littles, after lunch is usually nap time. So I ALSO take a Sunday nap and rest my body. I have a nap spot and so does my phone. Let’s put phones away for a while. Parking phones for hours at a time really does distance us from the frenzy. We usually try to be outside and enjoy nature, games, kickball, whatever. But of course, I am better at this somedays than others.
4. Listen to God. My husband works with his mind during the week, and therefore likes to work with his hands on the Sabbath. He often has his tool belt on while I am napping (and drooling). Sometimes he has helped fix other friends' homes. This is not a striving to provide for himself–He has listened to God and communes with Him in that. Let's not be Sabbath Police for others. Let's listen to God on resting well as a family. Sunday afternoon football games, snacks, and watching together have been really lovely and restful. He will lead you.
5. Take turns having time away. If you are married with your kids, take turns giving one another a few hours each Sabbath to be refreshed. I have a quiet park I love to walk in after my drooly afternoon snooze and my husband always encourages me to go be in nature. Sometimes I meet a friend. Sometimes I need solitude. If you are single parenting, if at all possible, see if you can arrange a way every other week or so to get out in nature and soak in God's beauty and quiet by yourself. No matter the season. Quiet, freshly fallen snow is my favorite.
6. Let the dishes pile and play together. We eat and leave the dishes in a pile to get to at the end of the day. It can be hard to see the rest of the day, but it’s good to remember that we could be in constant cleaning mode if we aren’t mindful of it. Our worth is in God, not in a tidy kitchen. Let it be for a few more hours. And play with your kids! Get outside, get out the cards, play a board game. Look each other in the eye and enjoy one another for who they are, not what anyone accomplishes.
Can I tell you what happens, even when we set aside a half day to accomplish nothing and trust God? I am almost, dare I say, eager to get back to work? I am ready and refreshed for Monday. Which has been never.
So may these tips inspire you to trust God to cease striving for an entire day and rest your mind, body, and soul. This will begin to affect the rest of your week. You will have more energy and you will chip away at the constant hustle, at how you see the world in terms of productivity, at how you trust yourself. And you will begin to see that God is to be trusted, even when you rest. He is such a good Father. He will provide for you. You can trust Him to give you the time and energy to answer those emails, to finish that project, to work hard... on Monday. Read more Sabbath thoughts from Amy here.