“Bekah! There are firecrackers in your back pocket!!!” Being just a scared little thing, it didn’t occur to me to just pull them out and throw them. My instinct was to run…as if I could out-run my own butt…*Pop – pop – pop – pop – pop – pop – pop* “Owwwwww!” The tears came down as I fell to the ground on my rear trying to make the stinging go away. Just another day of growing up with bored older brothers, I suppose…
I’ve thought a lot about the fight or flight response…even did some research on it in grad school for a bit. The thing about this response, is that although many of your senses are heightened, it doesn’t leave you a lot of room for deep thought. Your body simply goes into survival mode: stay alive, make it through, persist. There isn’t room in survival mode for beauty, joy, thriving, singing, community, peace, art, rest, celebration, dance, fun, thought…So, what is my point here? Well, I believe that I have lived much of my life in a self-induced survival mode: “Get it done!” “Knock it out!” “Finish strong!” “Be the best.” “Stand out!” “Keep your head above water.” While none of these thoughts are necessarily bad ones…none of them were good ones either. I was simply surviving my life instead of living it.
A few years ago, Stan and I started really thinking about Sabbath: God provided a rhythm for humans that would allow us to thrive…a time to be productive and work…and a time to rest. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. (Exodus 20:8-10 NIV) This command is right there along with “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal” We never consider breaking those commands but we, for some reason, take pride in breaking the one about the sabbath. Seriously! We brag about being too busy to slow down, relax, and enjoy life…like it’s a badge of honor or something. (I love the United States but I think this is one of those times that the American way of life is in direct conflict with scripture.)
Over the past few years of studying sabbath, I have decided to take it a bit further. For me, once per week isn’t enough. I need time out every day. That is saying a lot for me: I’ve always been the hyperactive kid that never slowed down long enough to think about things…I would always just follow my knee-jerk reactions and act. Needless to say, I have had many instances of fire crackers going off in my back pocket because I didn’t think about my circumstances long enough to respond in an intelligent manner. It’s a little counter-intuitive…you would think that multi-tasking and getting stuff done would be the most efficient way to handle life…but not so much. What I have found is that taking a few minutes of quieting my mind and heart, spending a little time thinking each day…well, it has led to a happier, more productive, less frustrating, and less stressful existence. I feel better, I am making better decisions, I am more grateful, and I have better relationships. It is not at all what I would have thought but there it is.
All this said, I think that Sabbath is our cure for our busy, hyper-scheduled, stressful, and chaotic lives. How are you doing with this? Are you good at resting? Do you take time to quietly think and consider things? How might you incorporate this into your schedule if you aren’t already doing it? If you don’t do it, do you understand that this is a command from God? Does that change how you feel about it? Do you have any success stories about this?