Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
I would rather not eat grains, dairy, legumes, or drink alcohol for 40 days than take a day off… it’s true and here is why:
Sabbath is meant to be an intentional day of rest. A day set aside for contemplation, rest and reflection upon God and the rhythm of our lives. From the very beginning of scripture we are reminded that we need to slow down, pause and rest. Exodus 20:8 tells us to keep that day set aside. I have always liked the idea of Sabbath, but in reality I hate it. I hate it because I have low self-value… let me explain this one.
As Lent was approaching, I tried to think of something I could do to set the rhythm for the season. Not all of you practice Lent, but it is a forty-day period set aside to prepare for Easter. It is a season of reflection and self-examination. As part of that, many people take on or give up something. In years past, I have given up any beverage that wasn’t water (that one was hard, as I am an ice tea addict and I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner), taken on reading a devotional every day, created an art piece for each week, given up sugar, and all sorts of other things to help focus my mind and look at some of the addictions and habits I have in my life. This year as I sat down to do that very thing, I thought about potentially actually doing Sabbath. Taking a day to spend with God – to turn off my cell phone, to stop creating and simply be – but I wasn’t able to do it… I was paralyzed by the very thought.
I have Fridays off, and I usually jam pack them with everything from gym appointments to my weekly shopping to trips to see friends. I am actually looking at making Friday my ‘adventure day’ – a day that I start going to places that I want to see in California that are within driving distance. Because I am not married and don’t have kids, unless you count my furry best friend, I could potentially set a whole day aside to reflect, study and do the things that bring me closer to God. I know I work for a church, but there is a real danger in letting that be the only connection I have with my faith; letting it become just a job and not something changing and defining my own life. So why can’t I set the day aside?
What I chose to do instead is eat clean for 40 days. That means eating by something known as the Whole 30. It’s not easy and I do take my resurrection day, but for some reason, eating with strict rules is easier for me than slowing down. Why is that? As I prayed about this today, I heard the words “What are you afraid of?” and my answer surprised me: “I am afraid I don’t matter.” There it was – the truth, the reason I hate Sabbath – because in resting I can’t be productive, I can’t provide for others and I can’t perform. I just have to be, and I am afraid in the time that I set apart, I will discover that I don’t matter. I live alone and spend a good deal of time alone, but if I am honest, I fill that time with work and busyness so I don’t answer the pressing question: Is the world okay without me? The answer is of course ‘yes,’ but there is something in taking the time to realize it that is hard for me. I have to realize that I need to connect to my faith or all the busyness and all of the work is for naught. My real work is the work of simply being. And it is hard work! I have to learn to be present in the moment, let go of my fear of missing out and simply be. And that, friends, is harder than skipping nachos and taco Tuesdays!