A while back, I had a season where I felt like I was drowning in unending task management. I decided I needed “a Sabbath” and I stayed home from church – and I proclaimed to anyone who asked that I was taking a Sabbath and not attending service (where I often am in work mode).
My children went to church and I power cleaned for three hours. When my son came home and realized that I spent the whole morning catching up on housework, he said, “I don’t think you quite understand the concept of Sabbath mom!”
The boy was right.
I’m getting a better working definition of what good Sabbath practice looks like for me, but in my experimenting over the past few months, I’ve discovered a few things that I try to label as Sabbath that honestly just aren’t.
Here are four Sabbath imposters, that need to be kicked out of my Sabbath practice.:
1. Being sick… not a Sabbath!
I used to sort of joke about my various illnesses and injuries as being signs from God to rest. I say “sort of” because while it sounded funny, I wasn’t actually joking. I didn’t rest in any significant way until I was so sick or injured that I was incapable of anything but couch surfing. That kind of forced rest is not something I can qualify as Sabbath anymore.
2. Catching up… not a Sabbath!
Power cleaning, or spending a day clearing items off a neglected to-do list might require a day set aside from “normal” tasks. That doesn’t make it a Sabbath. That is just a different kind of work day! Even though I may feel WAY better and more at peace when I’m done, catching up definitely isn’t rest.
3. IKEA shopping… not a Sabbath!
I’m trying to find a good formula for my Sabbath that includes time with God, time with family/friends and time alone in real rest. I recently tried spending a portion of a day that was set aside as Sabbath with my daughters walking through IKEA. Bonding time with the girls fits Sabbath for me – so this seemed like a good idea! Perhaps if you really love shopping and find it a relaxing way to connect in relationship, it might have worked for you. But, after two hours in IKEA, I knew 100% without a doubt, that shopping is not Sabbath-friendly for me! Not at IKEA, the mall, the grocery store or online… There is nothing restful or restorative about it for me. It’s stressful and I don’t like it. I can’t claim it as a Sabbath.
4. Crap TV… (sadly) not a Sabbath!
This is honestly my go-to “relaxation” strategy. I turn on “time-well wasted” television that has little redemption value. OK, lets be honest – the stuff I like to watch in my downtime often is crap! Its fluff. Funny, mind numbing fluff. But, fluff all the same. Again, for you a sitcom or movie might very well fit into your definition of Sabbath rest. I personally have more sitcom dialogues memorized than Bible verses and I know it! I have to resist the temptation to turn that kind of TV on and turn my brain off at every opportunity. Binge watching is so easy once you’re comfortable and settled. So, even if by definition, watching television may be restful. It’s not a good choice as part of a Sabbath practice for me.
I’ve spent a few months now experimenting and failing and learning and succeeding with developing an actual practice of Sabbath. I’ve found things that work and fit well for me too, but those are stories for another post.
A disclaimer… I am aware that some of these things may be something you include in your Sabbath time. That is totally OK. We’re all wired a little different and, so this is not intended to judge. You do you!