Every life pulsates with rhythm. Schedules of sleeping, eating and relating vary according to culture, but all people fall into rhythm of some kind.
And every musical rhythm must contain rests, or pauses, where the beat stops beating, even if just for a moment.
What are some of the natural pauses that already exist in the rhythm of your life right now?
In the United States, the larger rhythms of life might look like the school calendar, with rest for children during summer and winter break. It also may include the 8 to 10 hour work day, with weekends off and church on Sundays. But our rhythms can also be dictated by the church calendar of Advent, Lent and other holy days.
The rhythms of a working parent may include pauses during a commute or lunch break and a stay-at-home parent may have brief pauses to nurse a baby or while a child naps. Pauses may be at prayers before meals and bed or alongside other family traditions. Those without children or with older children may have extended morning pauses, while parents of littles may have extended pauses in evenings if their children sleep early.
If we are serious about finding true soul rest, we need to be realistic with our goals. One of the easiest ways to do this is to insert intentional rest into the natural pauses that already exist in our lives.
The purpose is not to fill these pauses with more "doing," but to retrain ourselves to extend them into space to "be." Take naps. Space out instead of pulling out your phone in the checkout line. Exercise outside without music or headphones. Walk slower than feels natural. Drive in silence (if you don't have kids shrieking in your car like I do). Go to bed absurdly early. Spend an extra three minutes in the shower.
Extend your pauses.
We also need to transform the natural pauses of our lives into sacred moments.
What does this look like practically?
Here's an example of what not to do. Today after I dropped the kids off at the nursery at church and made my way back to my husband for the service, I spent the majority of the service distracted, scribbling notes for this post on my bulletin. The songs were words, not worship; and communion was bread and juice, not the body and blood. My physical body was there, but my mind was not. And I missed out. This was a rare hour that I could have been meeting with Jesus, but because I was not intentional about using this time to seek Him, I missed out on making this a sacred pause in my week.
And I desperately needed that kind of soul rest.
So to follow my own advice, I need to prepare myself for pauses. Closing our eyes is a gift. By moving tiny muscles in our face, we can physically tune out all that is around us. I need to learn how to utilize this very basic gift of God to reclaim these pauses and transform them into sacred moments with the Lord. In church, I can close my eyes when I enter and ask for help to focus.
Most of the time, we don't need to change our entire rhythm, but only to extend or capture the pauses we already have and make them sacred, but occasionally we need to allow God to rewrite the rhythm of our days to include pauses that weren't there before.
My friend and her family have decided to observe the Sabbath (called Shabbat in Hebrew) more formally and make this longer pause a part of the rhythm of their lives. Here is a bit of her experience.:
We celebrate Shabbat from Friday night sundown to Saturday sundown. We do this to join in the thousands of years people have celebrated it at this time. We have tried to set Shabbat apart by cleaning up before Friday night (which somehow makes cleaning more purposeful and enjoyable for me), making a fancy dinner and inviting guests over.
We often light candles before dinner and say/sing a blessing. We often sing the Shema and take communion. It is the time when we enjoy our bridegroom and He enjoys us as His bride as it is often said that Shabbat is like preparing for a king or the wedding of the bridegroom.
Shabbat is as much about delight as it is about rest.
On the seventh day God took delight in all he had created. It is a time to reflect on how God delights in us and all creation and we get to enter into that and delight with Him.
Along the lines of delight and celebration, we try to save any desserts for Shabbat so that we see Shabbat as a delight! We have desserts Friday night and often a big breakfast Saturday morning with chocolate chip pancakes.
One of the keys for us with Shabbat is to make it 'holy' and set apart from other days, so we do rest from regular work. At the end of the Saturday night sundown, the house is usually a mess with dishes piled up and toys spread all around. Sometimes it takes discipline to not clean up, but by the end of Shabbat it is funny how you have new motivation to clean since you were trying not to. We also take time to pray, dance to worship music, play games, read Scriptures and go on walks. It is about 'being' with family and friends as we delight in God and His creation.
This has been such a challenging week. I hope that it has been for you, too. If you are new to the series, be sure to read the previous posts on soul rest listed below. Personally, I am going to take a reverse Sabbath and rest over the next six days before posting another blog post on the seventh day, so if you don't hear from me, know that I am trying to practice what I preach (though I will be in contact with the winners of the audio book giveaway by Tuesday afternoon--you can still have a chance if you subscribe to emails or comment before Tuesday morning!).
My Goals for Soul Rest
- Observe the Sabbath as my friend did during the month of January
- Plan a personal retreat next year
- Stop pulling out my phone to "kill time" when I could use that time to pray or just "be"
- Choose one Bible verse to focus on each week (baby steps)
- Be intentional about extending and using the pauses that already exist in my life to rest and seek God
- Read and drink tea for 20 minutes a day, ideally while my children nap
A beautiful word I came across recently is fermata. It is a long rest in the middle of a piece of music, like a sigh. I pray you will allow Christ to carry your heavy load and rest in the sweet sigh of His freedom from doing because the most important work has already been done on the cross. Rest, weary one, rest. Let Him carry you.
"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you" (Psalm 116:7).
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken" (Psalm 62: 5-6).
What are a few goals you have for implementing rest into your day, week, month or year this coming year?
The Sabbath Society: a society of women committed to observing the Sabbath each week
25 Encouraging Scriptures for Rest and Relaxation
Start Small, Start With Sabbath, by Sarah Bessey
If this is your first visit to 7 Days of Soul Rest, be sure to read through the previous posts listed below. Please introduce yourself in the comments--I'd love to hear your story!
to the Series
Day 1: Three Secrets of Soul Rest
Day 2: Moms Are
Day 3: Permission for Self Care
Day 4: Ordinary Moments
Day 5: Creative Spirituality for Busy
Day 6: Planning a Personal Retreat
Day 7: Sabbath Rhythms
Linking up with #WholeMama
Labels: 7 Days of Soul Rest, busyness, Sabbath, Soul Rest, Spiritual Lessons