A Case for Regular Sabbath
Intentional sabbath rejects this ever-present notion that we must move faster, hustle harder, and do more.
As Sabbath is becoming a consistent rhythm in my life, I am finding the way we begin our weeks does matter. In a city like New York, constant messages are encouraging us to move faster, hustle harder, and do more. Sabbath allows us to begin our weeks rejecting this ever-present notion.
By Abigail Murphy
In my time at King’s, I have taken on many different roles. I am a full-time student and a part-time barista. I am a daughter, a sister, and friend. I am a House member and also actively involved in my local church. As I navigated my first two years at King’s, I found myself in a constant struggle to balance these diverse roles. And, to be honest, I still find myself struggling to identify what roles should take priority in my daily life. However, recently I have seen that practicing regular Sabbath has shifted my perspective and is alleviating the tension between these roles. I feel lighter and less anxious. I move into Monday morning more prepared to tackle the day. Sabbath, as it turns out, is making all the difference.
In Exodus 20:8, we are told to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The Sabbath is a distinct day to meditate, to abide in the Lord, and to be in community. It begs the question: What if God is calling me to transform my everyday rhythms and responsibilities around giving everything back to him? What if God is calling us to reframe work around rest rather than rest around our work? I believe he is. So what does that look like practically?
The framework for Sabbath I have found expressed in Scripture provides language and space to reframe the work we do, giving it back to God. Sabbath can look different for each person and can change in each season of life. However we choose to reorient our lives around Sabbath, I have discovered, we are often most productive when we actively make space for rest and reflection. In creating a clear separation between work and intentional rest, we can also create space in our minds for active, creative, and productive work.
Work is an inherently good thing. It is something we were created to do, according to Genesis 2:15. Nevertheless, when I let it become the center of my existence, I tend to trudge through my tasks until the weekend comes. And, as a college student with a job, it is all the more likely that I will fight the to urge to rest and work through the weekend too. We are called to be diligent, to pursue whatever we are doing to the fullest, even if it is writing a simple reading response, studying for a quiz, or doing laundry. With this perspective, we create a mentality that resists the notion of working toward bullet points of a resume or a pay raise. We can avoid burnout.
Putting Sabbath Into Practice
My goal in writing is not to preach. For two years, I struggled with keeping the Sabbath consistently. I would be convicted of doing homework on Sunday, but only out of a desire to please my community, and I could easily dismiss that. As time passed, I felt overwhelmed by my growing to-do list and lack of motivation. I was desperate to create consistent habits that would help me be the kind of student I knew I could be.
When I reached out to a friend for accountability in navigating my priorities, and how that should inform my week, everything shifted. As a project manager, her responsibility is to make sure her people have the resources to do their jobs well. She is excellent at her work, and very gracious at utilizing her skills to support her friends. Over cups of coffee and text conversations, she helped me develop the mindset and practical skills to be able to work efficiently throughout my day and week. Then, by the time Sunday morning comes around, I have accomplished the goals for that week, allowing time for rest and reflection. Now, we have weekly check-ins over the phone, and her accountability helps me maintain a positive outlook on productivity, instead of being swallowed up in the swarm of roles and responsibilities in daily life. One of my most important takeaways from our conversations is that Sabbath also reframes the other six days. If we intend to truly walk away from work one day a week, there is less time to do the task we need to do. Instead of seven days to complete the work, there are now six. Accountability helps us set realistic goals and stay consistent in our habits, two things necessary to take a full day off.
The Impact of a Regular Sabbath
As Sabbath is becoming a consistent rhythm in my life, I am finding the way we begin our weeks does matter. In a city like New York, constant messages are encouraging us to move faster, hustle harder, and do more. Sabbath allows us to begin our weeks rejecting this ever-present notion. Time is a finite resource. As students with many opportunities and responsibilities, I believe it is helpful to develop a Biblical framework around work and rest. It certainly has been for me. Our identity is not contingent on our work. Sabbath provides a weekly opportunity to remember this.