Everybody’s Doing it

This month’s Self-care Sundays series will focus on Sabbath rest. How can we find it, cultivate it, and benefit from it? How does Sabbath rest help us nurture ourselves?

Athletes use it. Doctors prescribe it. Scientists espouse its virtues. We know we need it, but we fail to work it into our lives. What is it? Rest.

Before we can take it, we must define it. People often mistake sleep for rest. While adequate sleep plays an important part in our overall health, the definition for rest doesn’t stop with sleep. Mirriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines rest the noun as “2 a : freedom from activity or labor b : a state of motionlessness or inactivity 4 : peace of mind or spirit.”

As a verb, rest means to “2 : cease from action or motion: refrain from labor or exertion 3 : be free from anxiety or disturbance 5 a: remain confident.”

We see it everywhere, admonitions to rest in order to take care of ourselves, refresh our creativity, and deal with life’s hassles. I recently read an excellent book on intentional rest and how it can help us create the space we need to discover our true selves.

In this series, I hope to take the concept of intentional rest one step further and explain how a specific type of rest, Sabbath rest, can benefit us in all aspects of our lives.


Our grandson recently spent two weeks with us (along with his parents, since he’s only two). His first day here I happened to be sitting on the floor when he rolled my giant yoga ball towards me. With a fake scream, I fell over backwards when the ball gently rolled against me. The game of Knockover became an instant hit.

Everybody's talking about it, but everyone finds it difficult to do. No, not organizing your sock drawer. Finding Sabbath rest. Six practical tips for finding the rest your brain needs. #rest #Sabbath #sabbathrest #selfcare

Any time Abel saw me and the ball in the same room, he would grab my hand, pull me to the vicinity of the ball, pat the ground so I would sit, and then cackle as he pushed the ball towards me. Sometimes he would lead me into the room where he knew he could find the ball and repeat his ‘instructions.’ Each time he ‘knocked’ me over, he would reach out his little hand and ‘pull’ me to a sitting position (I highly recommend this activity for those wanting to build strong abs).

When he visited my classroom and saw dozens of yoga balls, he made instant friends with any of my students who would sit on the floor and play Knockover with him. But sometimes he short circuits the game. He focuses on rolling the ball and forgets to lend a helping hand to the one on the floor. He’ll just roll the ball over a prone body—which doesn’t produce the same volume of giggles since the drama quotient drops without the ‘fall.’

Learning as He Goes

Sometimes he tugs my hand from behind—which doesn’t really help me sit up. I just scoot along in the direction he pulls me. He learns quickly, though, and over the week he started pulling me from the front 90 percent of the time.

He loves Knockover and all its iterations. Once he rolled the ball at me while I knelt at the table to check my email, and when I fell over, he helped me up and patted the table so that I would kneel again.

Pedro has joined in the Knockover fun now, too. I love listening to his laughter and Abel’s delighted cackle as they play. Abel has even figured out how to play the game in each room of the house based on the room’s limitations and furniture. In the dining room, he’ll use his little hands to turn his ‘victim’ in the correct direction (facing him). But when he plays in the living room, he knows he doesn’t need to do this because he has space to maneuver the ball.

Knockover has morphed into our communication link (this summer we played Suitcase, but that game doesn’t work on carpet very well). When we play, we’re all in. He has my undivided attention.

Short-Circuiting the Sabbath

I think God created the Sabbath as a way to communicate with us. He wanted it to be a special day when we played all-in with him, and left our work worries behind. Somewhere between creation and salvation, the Jews short-circuited the intent of the Sabbath. It went from a time of mental rest with their heavenly Father to a mental gymnastics routine on how to keep the day holy.

They turned it into a day of pomp and circumstance, rules and regulations, and forgot that God wanted to draw us away from the quotidian and burdensome to play with him. Once a week, God wants us to delight in him and to know that he delights in us.

When we view Sabbath rest as a play date with God, we lose our I-have-to-go-to-church-and-then-do-a-thousand-errands checklist mindset. We allow intentional space for true rest that refreshes mind, body, and soul.

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Steps for Taking a Mental Sabbath Rest

1. Make a commitment to stay off of social media on the Sabbath.

It’s not easy, but as I journey towards finding mental rest, I’ve discovered that the need to check my social media diminishes as I distance myself from its incessant call.

2. Schedule what brings you joy.

Birding brings me joy. Hiking in the mountains or mountain biking through the red rocks bring me joy. I intentionally plan activities outside the scope of my normal workweek for the Sabbath.

3. Spend time with God.

Go to church and worship with other people. Pop your favorite worship CD in your stereo system and crank the volume (dance with joy if you feel like it). Remember, don’t let a CD ‘s genre limit you—I often rock out to Toby Mac and belt along with Rend Collective. Maybe you feel closest to God in nature. Grab your Bible and go outside. Just take intentional time to BE with God.

4. Stay away from shiny things.

Nothing can suck away my Sabbath peace faster than walking into a store. Instead of focusing on God, my mind quickly focuses on me and what I want and think I need. For true mental Sabbath rest, avoid places with shiny objects that cost money.

5. Do something for someone else.

Rake your neighbor’s leaves or pull her weeds. Invite some little kids over so their parents can get away for a break. Find a family you’d like to get to know better and invite them over for a meal. When we do things for other people, we give our minds a break from our incessant worries.

6. Avoid things that ding.

As I write this I’m sitting on a plane 30,000 feet above the earth. The elderly guy across the aisle just pulled out his iPad and started playing a video game. The clunks, buzzes, dings, beeps, and repetitive music make me twitchy and annoyed. It doesn’t help that he has the volume at maximum output. Video game creators intentionally add music, sounds, and experiences to keep you coming back and engaged. That’s manipulation, not rest.

Come back next week for the second in February’s series on Finding Sabbath Rest.

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