Rest. This concept is rooted in all kinds of sacredness. Think of the famous chapter that kicks off the book of genesis. You know, the poem of creation in which God takes a day off to rest. He might not need to rest, but He’s demonstrating the importance of it by doing it Himself. He’s being a good teacher. After that The Bible continually reminds us to take this rhythm seriously, in fact it is even one of the 10 commandments. What kind of god ‘commands’ that we take a day off? A good one. A kind one. The type of god who wants to remind us that
“we are human beings not human doings.”
(-One of my favorite Rob Bell quotes.)
This is good news, but so hard to execute because busyness is it’s own god; an idol that our culture loves to bow down to and worship. We evangelize it when we complain-brag when we mention how busy we are or when we use phrases like, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. We praise workaholics and measure our self-worth by how many tasks we complete in a day. Even taking time off often makes us feel guilty. And then we say, “I didn’t get anything done yesterday, it was terrible!” as if rest is a sin.
I’m putting our workaholic mentality on trial along with our excessive phone usage because I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. In order to loosen our grip on our phones we need to ask ourselves why we are so preoccupied with them in the first place. I believe the main answer lies in our cultural consensus that productivity is king. Not to mention boredom, or fear of missing out (FOMO). We have an anxiety about just being quiet. We want to do it all and have it all and be it all without skipping a beat. Grinding day in and day out is not sustainable though. We’re not machines. We are commanded to rest, and yet we fight it.
So you see, rest and phones do not mix. At the same time turning off our phone might feel liberating at first, but anxiety creeps in shortly after. We start to wonder how anyone will reach us in the event of an emergency so we turn it back on.
Clay and I have been your guinea pigs in each post and this time is no exception. For 3 years we’ve been taking one day off a week, a Sabbath. Our Sabbath habits have ebbed and flowed over the years, but our phones are almost always off to some degree. We often put our phones in Do Not Disturb mode and only allow phone calls (you know, just in case) but we’ve been known to leave the house without them anyways. And after 3 years of unplugging in this way, our world has never fallen apart, we haven’t missed out on anything, and we haven’t suffered.
On this day of rest we use our phones to call and receive calls, as GPS devices, to play music, and occasionally as cameras. But no texting, emails, internet, or social media. No writing blog posts or using the computer. Texts can wait, Facebook can wait and if we want to know how Planet Earth gets their camera shots, we write it down and look it up the next day.
This structure will be hard at first but giving yourself a dedicated day to rest, especially from all of these devices, is life changing.
DO WHAT SPARKS JOY
Throughout this series we’ve been evaluating which possessions spark joy, but
it’s time we focus on doing what sparks joy.
Take one day off each week and let rest be rest. Relax and enjoy yourself without the guilt. Go for a bike ride, take a nap, watch a movie, treat yourself to a nice meal. Ignore the yard work, the laundry, the texts, and the Instagram posts for one day. Give yourself a day to roam free with no agenda.
Clench your fists and hold it for 30 seconds. Now unclench them. That’s the release I’m talking about. That’s a small taste of what sabbath is; white space, release, breathing in the freshest air. Start by considering all the times in a week when you have to be ‘on’ and then do the opposite of that for 24 hours. Don’t fill this time with tasks you have to do. Do more of the anything you get to do.
Sabbath should feel a lot like vacation. Sabbath is a full day dedicated to doing things that spark joy.
PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME
Resting, and vacation sound good on paper, but ironically in order to get there, a little work is involved. So if you want to spend your day off exploring a new bike path, make sure your bike tires and bike carrier are ready to go the day before. Take all the stress and work out of it ahead of time.
The same preparation is required for our devices.
For instance, if Clay and I know we want to check out a new restaurant we look up the hours and yelp reviews the day before. And sometimes we revert back to 1990 and just aimlessly wander into whatever restaurant is appealing.
I also clear my phone out each week. This means I try to empty my email inbox, delete my recent call history/voicemails, and delete all text messages. I’m not always able to clear everything each week, but even just getting my email inbox to 0 and deleting text messages gives me a breath of fresh air.
p.s– @thelaminimalist has a good thought regarding text message hoarding. She argues that conversations, in real life, cannot be saved…so why are we saving texts? I think this is especially unfair for arguing-fighting texts that we keep to show people how rude/crazy/unkind John Doe is. (Thank goodness texting wasn’t as big of a thing when I was in middle school/high school, or else my parents would probably have a novel full of obnoxious texts. …I admit, I was kind of a jerk. Sorry Mom and Dad!)
Tip: delete finished text conversations as you go, and if a text contains important info…write it down. Save that picture or that GIF elsewhere.
Clay and I set these guidelines for our own good. A bit of tough love for ourselves. So create a set of restrictions that feels right for you and do your best when you can, if you can. If a full day off is too much right now, try setting aside a few hours to start. Because Sabbath isn’t about trading guilt for guilt. If we go from saying” I’m so bad, I didn’t do anything yesterday” to “I’m so bad, I did things” it defeats the purpose. It isn’t rest if we feel guilty doing it, in any sense.
And honestly, taking a day off is really hard. Some aspects of letting go on Sabbath have gotten easier with practice, but a lot of the time Clay and I still have half-clenched fists. I think that’s okay. I think there’s a reason God puts this in the 10 commandments; because he knows this will always be a struggle. Jeff Manion, the pastor of Ada Bible Church and author of Dream Big,Think Small, writes that he practices Sabbath…imperfectly. I love that line. I love it when grace is built in from the get go.
Speaking of rest, I just want to remind you that I’m calling a time-out on posting new content for now. So take this time to review past posts, and share! share! share! with all your friends. :)