Sabbath is possible for everyone, no matter how busy you are or how full your to-do list is in this season. But resting, truly resting, often doesn’t come easily. I’m grateful for these words from my friend Shelly, a rest mentor you’ll certainly want to learn from.
Recently, I left a grey bowl of cloud cover and rain crying on the windows of my London terrace house to spend a week with my first born in Phoenix, Arizona. The sleepy cells in my body awakened instantly from an extravagance of vitamin D in the atmosphere. “Look at those marble blue skies and puffy white clouds,” quickly became my daily mantra.
A week later, I boarded another plane with tan lines and a big lump in my throat. Sad to leave my daughter and the warm sun behind, my mood and the weather were desperately out of sync. Until I landed in Ohio a few hours later for a writing retreat.
Empathy does some good work within us to reveal the truth amidst the lies we tell ourselves.
Lies We Believe
As an author, I can tell you that the writing life can be an isolating vocation. Most creatives wrestle alone with self-doubt, disappointments, and the assumption that we are the only one – the only one struggling to write, the only who can’t grow a platform, the only one suffering with rejection.
We look for online cues to define the value of our words but the climate around marketing and publishing is often like the weather: fickle.
As I engaged with colleagues in various stages and ages of life – over meals, in workshops and worship settings – their stories became a revelation and comfort. Sometimes hearing the truth is what we need to move forward.
The truth sets us free from the myths we believe about Sabbath, too.
Endeavors toward a Sabbath rhythm are often solitary, hopeful, and envisioned as transformative until we go about the actual work of preparing for rest and the interruptions of life threaten to derail us. We assume we are the only one who can’t seem to make Sabbath work – the only one who fails at making rest a reality, the only one who suffers with chronic weariness.
I’m here, offering you my shoulder, to dispel those myths.
Why Sabbath is Possible For Everyone
We all struggle with finding a rhythm of rest, no matter what age or stage of life. I wrote a book about Sabbath, my bio states that I’m a rest mentor, and yet, I continue to fight for rest weekly.
This is what my research tells me, what thousands of people in the Sabbath Society repeatedly communicate week after week: Sabbath-keeping is possible for everyone, not because circumstances fall magically into place, but because we are made to be gritty.
Grit means courage and resolve; strength of character. And people who summon courage and resolve to keep the faith despite life’s disappointments are those who realize the riches in Sabbath.
Gritty people inspire those of us who need encouragement to keep going.
Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as “the ability to persevere in pursuing a future goal over a long period of time and not giving up… It is having stamina. It’s sticking with your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Think of Esther risking it all to save her people, Moses sacrificing quiet comfort to lead whining Israelites through the desert, Noah building an ark for decades before the rain fell, Daniel refusing to bow to idols, Mary giving birth to the Savior as a virgin. These people displayed grit when it wasn’t popular to do so.
I want to be a person characterized by grit, not as someone who easily gives up, don’t you?
You Are Not Alone
Sabbath isn’t a popular choice in today’s busy culture of hurry, hustle and getting lists checked off.
If rest seems more like a novelty than a gift from God’s generous heart, I want you to know that you are not alone. Keep persevering in taking baby steps toward realizing your own unique rhythms of rest.
And one day, like those who paved the way of faith before us, you’ll look back and see how God was with you, leading and loving you during every lonely, gritty step toward trusting in God more than certainty.
Your value is defined by who you are, not what you do.
Like the craft of writing books for an author, we begin the journey of Sabbath with a focus on externals only to realize the process has always been about God loving us, about time set apart to deepen relationship. He cares about what we care about – the clouds, sunshine, and relationships that speak the truth.
He knows you are tired of being tired. Will you choose to believe Sabbath is a gift and not another spiritual hoop to jump through?
Let’s identify the lies we believe about Sabbath and replace them with the truth.
Shelly Miller is a veteran ministry leader and founder of the Sabbath Society, an online community of people who want to make rest a priority. She is the author of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World.
Her writing has been featured in publications internationally and she speaks in venues around the world. Shelly and her husband H live as American expats in London, England, where they help resource church planting efforts. They are parents of two children, Murielle and Harrison. Find more of Shelly’s writing and photography at ShellyMillerWriter.com and daily on Instagram.