After reading comments from a handful of readers, I’ve realized that in my last post, “Shmita: Enriching the Land of Our Souls,” (click here to read) the main message of the post may have been lost in some of the details. I shared about some of the choices my husband and I have made to make this year a year of rest for our family. Many of our choices, though, were rather drastic and may have made a “year of rest” seem unattainable.
So, first, let me say that I am sorry for any burdens any of you may have felt. Pouring stress onto you is the exact opposite of what I was hoping to present. My hope was to explore the idea of returning to an ancient, God-given rhythm of rest by setting aside the seventh year as a year to cease from striving and production in order to rest. That was my hope.
Rest can look vastly different from person to person and from family to family. Engaging a rhythm of rest is about you actually resting. It is not about following a set of rules or anyone else’s pattern of rest. It is about finding out how you can set up your life in such a way that you (and your family) are engaging in rest.
So, when I shared that my husband and I have opted to have him work less so he can rest and to hire housecleaning and get more take out so that I can rest, those things were specific to us and our family. What I didn’t share was that my husband is coming out of a season of medical burn-out. The medical system reality for family practice doctors is often overwhelming, burdensome, draining, and disheartening (click here and click here to read articles describing that reality). As we experienced Val burning out the past two years, we knew we had to make drastic changes to his work life for his (and our) overall life-health.
What I also didn’t share was that we have made conscious choices in our budget this year to spend money on specific things that will bring me rest (for example hiring house cleaning every other week). At the same time, there are other areas that I am giving myself to in our family that we do not have to spend money on (for example I homeschool, so, our “preschool” cost is minimal and allows for us to spend money on other things that facilitate rest for me).
I would hate to communicate a God-designed rhythm in such a way that it becomes unattainable and weighty. What I do know is that if God designed this rhythm, it is attainable. It just may look differently from family to family. I was so grateful for the readers who could see past the specifics that I had shared on into what my core message was in the last post. There are great comments on my Facebook profile in response to my previous post. Honest comments from readers considering how to make rest a reality for them.
That’s what I hope to share more about here, today. For some of you, this calendar year is just not an option for resting…whether it be grad school or a pregnancy or a life transition, you just know you won’t be able to rest this year. That’s okay. My hope in sharing about “Shmita” was not so much that you’d do it right now lining up with the Jewish calendar. Rather I hoped to bring up the ancient rhythm and ask whether or not you thought it would be possible to engage that rhythm in your life. Engaging that rhythm of rest for you may be looking ahead for a year you can set aside sometime in the next few years…a year when you know you’ll be able to rest more.
The other vital piece that some of my readers were able to tease out of my post was that I was searching out what it would mean for your family to rest. And even more specifically, what is feasible for your family to rest. For many families, “working less” just isn’t an option. Or hiring house cleaning. Or getting more take out. I totally get that. What I do know, though, is that there probably are other things that you can take off your plate in life, things that you can say “no” to for a full year that would allow you and your family to rest. To be honest, the number one thing that is allowing me and my family to rest is saying “no” to all our ministry commitments we’ve had. We’ve been going hard for a while…leading, writing, speaking, travelling…and while it’s been awesome, it’s also taken a lot for our family to pour out in that way. Just shutting down ministry outputs for a full year has made considerable space in our life to rest.
Creating space to rest is so varied and so specific to each unique individual and family. Ideas from readers ranged from having much simper holiday and birthday celebrations to taking shortcuts with meals and housework to simply being intentional to rest and reflect and re-center. Other ideas could include purposing to have a decreased social schedule, cutting back on children’s extracurricular activities, swapping babysitting with friends so you get a little more time alone, setting aside your lunch break to do something restful and rejuvenating (pray, read, journal) as you eat, diminishing your ministry commitments, taking one day to cook the month’s meals ahead of time, using your kids’ naptime for restful pursuits rather than chores, setting aside a few nights of the week as “home date nights” with your spouse, and/or re-arranging your budget to cut back in certain areas in order to spend more on other areas that facilitate rest. These are all just random suggestions for how to make a year of rest attainable in everyday life. This list is not exhaustive at all, but is just a springboard for creatively thinking about how to make rhythms of rest attainable. I’d love to hear more ideas from you.
So, I am curious how you…in your own, very unique life…would create space for rhythms of rest? What could you actually take off your plate for a solid year to make space for rest? And what are things specific to you that would facilitate rest? How would that year look?
If a year of rest seems like too much to attempt, what smaller rhythms of rest could you incorporate in your everyday life right now?