The title of this post is pretty comical for me because I am in no way, shape, or form a good rester. I am better than I used to be but it is not a natural thing for me to do. This winter I started trying to be more intentional about resting. By resting I mean taking one full day off from my normal work and routine and doing things that are fulfilling, fun, and restful. I was surprised how much harder it was to do than I anticipated. I realized that I am pretty terrible at resting. My journey of rest is still ongoing but I have laid out a few things I have personally found helpful below.
What it’s not:
Rest. I used to think it meant doing nothing. And doing nothing to me meant sitting on the couch, watching TV, and/or scrolling through social media on my phone. So when I did that at the beginning of implementing a sabbath in my life, I was shocked when at the end of the day I felt more empty than filled! What was the point of taking a break from cooking and cleaning to have an insanely messy house come Monday morning that took twice as long to clean up, if it drained me?
What it can be:
Eventually I came to the realization that I was doing a couple of things wrong. I wasn’t preparing for rest and I wasn’t doing something that was restful for ME, even though it was restful for my husband. This is when I knew things were bad, I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT GAVE ME REST! And this just screamed that I needed a sabbath all the more. I was so far removed from it that I didn’t even know how to do it.
The hardest part about resting was figuring out what filled me up. So often I would think of rest only in the physical sense and forget my needs for mental, emotional, and spiritual rest. When I thought of it that way, I had to start with a list of things that sounded refreshing to me.
- Family time
- Not dishes
- Not laundry
- Not cooking
- Not cleaning
My list was short, with just as many things ‘to’ do as ‘not to’ do. But it gave me a starting point. I looked at the things that I didn’t want to do and wondered how I would be able to put off those things – especially cooking – for one day.
This is where I saw my great need to prepare for rest. I couldn’t just plop down on my couch in an instant without first giving some areas of my life attention. Saturdays would play a key role in my preparation. Below I have shared a few things that I do now that get me ready to rest. Usually this takes about a half a day for me to accomplish with a small baby.
Cooking: I knew I couldn’t get rid of cooking altogether because, hey we have to eat something a few times a day right? So I make our meals as simple and easy as possible. Saturday night I try to make a large meal that has plenty of leftovers on Sunday for lunch. For Sunday dinner I reverted to the easiest thing I know: brinner (breakfast for dinner). Brinner requires very little thought or creativity for me and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. Pancakes with bananas, apple or whatever item I feel like adding have been a staple the past few weeks for us. My husband is very good at making breakfast so occasionally he will cook eggs and hash browns or some other creation, which is even better because then I don’t have to cook at all!
Cleaning/dishes: Throughout the day on Saturday I make sure my laundry is folded instead of sitting on the couch. Even if the pile sits there all week long, it is put away for one day and I don’t have to look at it. I also do any of the cleaning that I know I won’t be able to look at on Sunday. Sometimes its a dirty toilet, sometimes its my stove top, etc. I clean my kitchen a little better than I would a normal night so that it takes a little longer to get messy. Saturday after dinner I do all my dishes to the fullest extent. I make sure that I have an empty or mostly empty dishwasher that I can toss plates and cups into as they are used on Sunday. I still have dishes in the sink by Sunday night but there are those few items that made it into the dishwasher and will save a few minutes later.
As for the fun/restful part of my Sunday, it looks a lot like reading and napping throughout the afternoon right now. Sometimes writing if I feel like it will build me up rather than make me toil. Sometimes reading my bible, sometimes not. Sometimes a family hike or walk together. Sometimes coffee and a treat at a coffee shop. Sometimes a bath or long shower with essential oils. It just depends what I’m feeling that day. Almost every week is still trial and error as I test out different things that I think may fill me up. If it doesn’t work, I remember for next week and try something else. Above all, rest has to be enjoyable. It has to be something that gives you life rather than takes it from you.
*sidenote for parents: It can be hard to take a break when you have little ones because their needs are so immediate. But something Dave and I have found to help is taking turns taking care of our baby. Dave usually puts him down for a nap, gets him up and changes him or plays with him for a little while so I feel like I get a small break from moming. This is usually when I nap, read by myself in bed, or sometimes leave the house by myself. And then when I’m watching Remmik, Dave can do his fun or relaxing thing. Each week we are still figuring out what works for both my husband and I. The first few weeks held lots conversations that involved both asking more or asking less of the other.
*sidenote for students: When I was a student I totally hated Sunday nights because I had all of my homework due that night or the next morning at class. Instead of Sundays being restful, they were filled with anxiety about the work I had yet to complete. Something I would advise for you to do is pick a different day of the week to have a sabbath. Or if you still want to keep it on Sundays, I would suggest doing the harder homework items on Saturday and leaving the easier stuff for Sunday. Do anything to lighten the load on your day of rest if you can’t completely omit homework from it.
Benefits of Rest
When I wake up on Monday mornings, I am actually excited to clean my house. And I have an excitement for Mondays for the first time ever! Maybe it’s because I’ve been resisting tidying messes for a day but maybe also because I actually took a break from my norm and I am ready to dive back in. On Sundays I enjoy myself and I’m more enjoyable for my husband to be around. I notice that my joy carries into the week as well and I seem to be more light-hearted and relaxed even when things get overwhelming for me.
Including another “thing” into your schedule is hard but sometimes it helps to see the purpose of it. The purpose of rest is:
- To trust God. Our world won’t crash if we don’t clean, work or accomplish something.
- To humble ourselves. We’re not as important as we think we are. Things will carry on just fine without us for one day.
- To remember who we are. We are not our accomplishments. We are who God says we are.
When we dive into those things head on, then we get the benefits of joy, relaxation, and light-heartedness.
If you’ve never thought about what a day of rest looks like for you, it is worth investigating. Jesus rested and God himself rested in Genesis after taking 6 days to create the world. Each of us is unique in the things that give us relaxation and fulfillment. Add a little preparation in your life in order to give yourself space to breath and take life in, instead of breathing life out.