by Ted Wueste
Last week, we looked at the need to have STOP DAYs and STOP Moments if we are going to rest in Christ. I received an email on Sunday afternoon that was a perfect illustration of what it means to struggle with the text of Scripture – to seek earnestly after the truth of God! With the emailer’s permission, I want to post the discussion we had this week ---
I am intensely aware of my desperate need for regular Sabbath, but it does not happen. My wheels never stop spinning...kids, house, errands, cooking, ministry. I feel the ocean of neediness that surrounds me is vast and never-ending. Yes, there are times when my kids are sources of joy and cooking is a delight rather than a duty, but for the most part my role-related responsibilities require full-time, seven-days-a-week work. The kids always require attention. People have to eat. Messes get made. There is always "mothering" that needs to be done. And (in case you were not aware) I am not energized by being a mom. Some women are, but I am not one of them. Mothering is hard work for me. And as you know, weekends are not time off for me. It's nice to have my husband’s help with the kids and the house on the weekends, but for the most part the same type of work is required of me on Saturdays and Sundays as is the rest of the week. Monday comes, and I've not stopped. So here is my question: What does it look like for someone in my shoes to have a Stop Day on a regular basis? How do I, as a full-time mother with children at home all week, take a day to stop? What would you suggest for me? How do I cease from my sources of stress and busy-ness?
It makes me feel a bit hopeless to think I can't incorporate a regular Sabbath in this season of my life, especially when it is in this season that I feel the ache for it most profoundly. My kids aren't going anywhere; the messes aren't going to magically stop; people still need to be fed and clothed and cared for. I want to change as a result of what you shared, but I need help figuring out how. I'd love to know your thoughts on this matter (or Jenifer's, if she has words of wisdom to share).
Thanks again for emailing. On Sunday morning, I had added to the side of my notes to challenge husbands with young families to work with their wives to figure this whole thing out. For some reason, I didn't share that ... so, it is really great to know that the Spirit is at work in that. This is a huge issue, and something that Jenifer and I have talked about and still need to "flesh out".
Knowing that you are at a unique time of life and a unique person (i.e., what gives you rest is not what works for others) - you will have to get creative. In addition, the command for a Stop Day is really a command to stop from your life work - for you, managing the household. So, here are a few ideas that I'd challenge you to discuss with your husband. (not knowing what kinds of things you may or may not already do - here are some ideas)
1. Is there a time in the week when you could get away for an 4-5 hour chunk (half day on Saturday or an evening) where it wasn't for a ministry meeting or errands but just simply a time to sit at a coffee shop or some place that would be relaxing?
2. Since taking care of the family is your life work, it might make a lot of sense to choose a day where you don't cook or clean or run errands or do anything related to the managing of your house. Having your husband there to share the regular kid stuff would help but make sure you only eat food that is prepared beforehand or you order out. No laundry, no cleaning, no cooking - just have a day where regular duties are completely off limits. In addition, make it a priority that you won't take on other tasks that day except ones that are relational/relaxing/etc. Don't have dinner with someone you "need" to have dinner with - don't accept an opportunity to do things that are "work" of any kind.
3. If finances allow, hire a maid and babysitter to come for a half a day each week so that you can leave and have Stop Time and know that a huge task is taken off your plate.
4. This idea is more seasonal but still gets the STOP principle - get away for an overnight retreat with a couple of girlfriends where the only agenda is to hang out - not necessarily talk or have any agenda --- just quiet and being with God.
I realize that some of these ideas may not fit and they will all be things that you'll have to discuss with your husband. However, I'd love to hear your feedback.
The things you suggested are very practical, very real. It was nice to realize our family has already incorporated a couple of your ideas. Since we moved to our new house, my husband has already gone above and beyond what is expected and hired a housekeeper who cleans our house every other week. This alone has lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders...one for which I am continually thankful. Additionally, I have a monthly girls dinner club that offers me the huge gift of uninterrupted, child-free, adult-interaction with my closest friends. My husband always makes it easy for me to get away on those nights, and there is never the expectation for me to be home by a particular hour. But you are right in that it is the rest of my "life work" that needs to be turned off regularly. I think your suggestions are worth considering and integrating into our lives somehow.
Since I emailed you Monday I have been reading a few other resources that offer information and guidance about the Sabbath. They have reinforced the bit you said Sunday about not making the Sabbath a worldly "Me Day". I'm not supposed to honor the Sabbath because I've earned a day off, or am entitled to a weekly retreat just so I can catch my breath before I dive back into life. Nor is this about taking a day to find a better, more-organized me or indulge myself with things I like until I feel stronger or more able to handle my life. Rather, I am learning that the Sabbath needs to intentionally provide a Christ-centered, restful environment for my spirit to reflect on what God has done for me in the past six days, and a time when He has opportunity to reveal more of himself to me through delightful, peaceful, recreational activities. I love the picture of God resting on the seventh day simply because it was time to. Time to enjoy what had been made, to reflect on being rather than doing, to quit making things, to revel in the peace that comes from stopping. What a unique characteristic of our huge God...sovereignly ordaining a time to stop for nothing more than the sheer delight it brings. And then expecting us to do as He did. I love the freedom He provides for me in His example. I am desperate to write this into my life somehow and hungry to obey the command to honor Him with a Sabbath in order that my spirit may drink in more of Him and discover his idea of rest.
I will let you know how this develops in our life...thanks again for the follow-up.