The Discipline of Choosing to Rest
With the ante of life’s busyness increasing on our family of four every year, my husband and I decided to implement the discipline of incorporating a day of rest into our week. This desire not only originates from our faith but also the awareness that if we don’t really put this into practice, we will cease to thrive as a family. Work, school, and extracurricular activities keep us ever moving in a variety of directions Monday through Friday. Then, adding the demands not foreseen, we are left with little to no time for recovery, inevitably crashing by the time the weekend rolls around. The Bible teaches that even God chose to rest after His work of creation, and we are foolish to think we can outrun His pace! “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord” (Exodus 31:15).
We have come to realize that if we want to have anything to give to the week ahead other than our already exhausted hearts and minds, we must start from a place of intentional refreshment, not depletion. For us, this designated margin for rest falls on Sunday. We guard this day well, leaving it free from scheduled overkill and digital screen engagement. What we loosely plan are times to take naps, read books, play games with our children, go on nature walks, connect with friends, or enjoy cooking a nice, slow meal paired with a glass of wine. These are the leisurely types of things we find life-giving to us that the demands of the week do not allow.
We consider this practice of observing an unstructured day of rest as stewardship of our family. What started out requiring discipline to implement is gradually taking root in the DNA of our family. We look forward to the planned time together and can better handle the week’s demands knowing that breathing room will come soon. This is our way to proactively care for not only ourselves, but also the impressionable hearts and minds of our children. We want to counteract the endless striving and engagement the world seems to demand of us with the contentment and comfort that comes from enjoying the present together.
We consider this practice of observing an unstructured day of rest as stewardship of our family.
To create your own discipline of rest:
1. Identify a day within the regular rhythm of your week that can become this day of rest.
2. Identify what it would take for you to start each week from a place of refreshment and then implement it, i.e. sleep, people, alone time, nature, etc.
3. Challenge yourself and your family to go unplugged for a day. Rather than spending precious time watching TV, playing video games, surfing Facebook, etc. redirect your attention to real and tangible experiences.
4. Get everyone on the same page. Loosely plan leisure activities the whole family will enjoy.
5. Put effort into preparing or enjoying just one nice meal that day and share it with others.
6. Plan ahead! Start preparing a day or two before to lighten your load for your rest day, maybe do a grocery run to have the needed ingredients for a desired meal, throw in an extra load of laundry or run pressing errands earlier to get them out of the way.
7. Be intentional. While you are spending time with those you share life with every busy day add those whom you seldom see, taking this opportunity to reconnect with them as well.
I hope this list helps you begin to think through how you might be able to incorporate a day of rest within your week. It may not feel natural at first, but I am confident that this discipline will serve you well.
Looking for ideas on how to enjoy this special day? Here are a few articles you might find helpful! Protecting Your Priorities in the Busyness of Life, Urban Gardening, Choosing to Recharge, What to Do When You Become Invisible, Resting in the Working, and Staycation Lifestyle.