Parenting is exhausting – rewarding, wonderful, amazing… but exhausting. Are you running on fumes in your Christian parenting journey? When you have a free moment, do you flop down in front of your favorite Netflix show or scroll through your phone? The truth is that the ways many of us choose to rest, not only do not leave us rested, but can also leave us feeling more drained than ever.
The answer may be in returning to Sabbath type rest. As Christians, we no longer celebrate the Sabbath as our day of worship (which has been established as Sunday for us). Yet the elements of Sabbath can give us the deep rest we need as Christians and as parents. Ironically, Sunday may not always be the best day for getting Sabbath type rest and the freedom we have in Christ allows us to incorporate these elements in our lives on any day.
So what are some of the elements of a Sabbath type rest? (Note: These are not the elements of a traditional, modern Sabbath observance in Judaism, but rather some of the activities that can provide the deep rest associated with a biblical Sabbath rest.) Here are some of our favorites.
- Time with God in scripture and prayer. This is not a rushed reading of a couple of verses and a rote prayer. Rather, it is lingering in scripture and pouring your heart out to God in prayer. The Psalms are often great to read for providing comfort and rest, but any scripture can help. Does the scripture make you agitated instead? That may be an indication it has reminded you of an area of your spiritual life that needs more attention.
- Reflecting on scripture. Choose a verse or a very short passage and reflect upon it throughout your day. What is God trying to teach you through those verses? What action do you need to take because of the verses upon which you are reflecting? How can you share the lessons found in those verses with those you know?
- Walking, stretching and other “quiet” exercise. Traditionally, exercise is not allowed on the Sabbath. As Christians, we don’t have the same restrictions. While vigorous exercise does not always provide the rest we need, more relaxing forms can. Quiet exercises can release tension and work off toxic chemicals from stress, while still allowing us to reflect on scripture or just turn our thoughts off for a bit. Many Christians also find in the quiet of a long walk they are able to pray and can better “hear” the thoughts God may be planting on their hearts and minds.
- Sleep. Most adults don’t get nearly enough sleep. Sometimes, the best parenting move you can make is getting a few extra hours of sleep.
- Doing something creative. It only makes sense that if we are made in the image of God, the Creator, we were designed to create and be creative. Unfortunately, the real world can stifle creativity. Participating in creative pursuits can be extremely restful. You don’t have to start an expensive hobby. Altering a recipe, figuring out a creative way to fix something around your home and other simple things can be creative if we allow them to be.
- Reading books that help you grow. Reading fiction doesn’t always provide rest – any more than watching a movie. Reading non-fiction books that inspire or help us grow often do leave us feeling inspired and rested.
- Journaling. Journaling is not restful for everyone, but if you enjoy writing, journaling can help you get all of those thoughts down in a way that can provide you rest. Some have found that making a to-do list of absolutely everything in your brain provides rest because you are no longer anxious about forgetting something important.
- Exposure to nature. Since God’s Creation was designed to point us to God, the Creator, it makes sense it can also help us feel rested and closer to God. Even those in large cities have green spaces and the sky. You may even want to add natural elements to the decor of your home to have a similar impact on a smaller scale.
- Community. The traditional Sabbath meal was a family one. Time was spent in worship with others in the community. We learn from the creation of Eve that we were not meant to be isolated from others. Spending time having coffee with a supportive friend or enjoying a family picnic can also provide a Sabbath type rest.
What’s the hardest part about giving yourself Sabbath type rest? Carving out the time to do it regularly. The Israelites were not given the command to celebrate the Sabbath only on weeks when they weren’t busy. God knows we need regular, quality rest. You may have to delete something from your schedule or make other hard choices to carve out time each week for some Sabbath type rest. If you can’t find an entire day, find a few hours on more than one day. Make Sabbath type rest a family thing, as your kids need it, too. You may find life is a lot easier when you all are truly rested and spending regular quality time with God.