Exhausted, emotional, and overwhelmed. That is how I felt this past spring. It was a full season with many activities, responsibilities, and events. (A common season in my family!) Thankfully, all of the “things” were positive and good! But even in the midst of so much good, it can feel burdensome when it affects your sense of peace. When good things replace God’s Peaceful Presence, they become bad things. We weren’t designed to run so hard that we exist on fumes. And we weren’t designed to constantly reach for God’s Presence, feeling we are unable to grasp it, similar to running after a train but missing it by mere minutes. I decided in April I needed a significant rest time- a sabbatical, of sorts.
Sabbatical: from the Greek word sabbatikos or “of the sabbath.” It is a period of leave for a worker to intentionally rest. Essentially, it is a string of Sabbath days put together. Biblically speaking, a year-long sabbatical was observed every seventh year in the fields. During this time, the land was to be left uncultivated and unworked. This allowed time for the soil to regain much needed nutrients for planting and for the workers to regain much needed rest, perspective, and dependance on God.
I decided my sabbatical period would be relatively short: 2 months. Because I am a wife and mother, my rest time would not be like a traditional sabbatical- I would not leave my “job” for 2 months. I would not be able to completely disengage from all work. Instead, I would shift my focus and change my mindset during this time.
God is deeply compassionate. He knows and understands the deepest desires of our hearts. He knows my love of travel, my sense of adventure, and my desire to live free! I knew I needed a sabbatical and He knew I needed a sabbatical! However, I was still a wife and mother who had many tasks that needed to be taken care of daily at home. It seemed like a conundrum in the physical realm- “A sabbatical while still being a wife and mother? How Lord?”
When we relax into His Presence, when we follow the promptings of our hearts, when we rest in His Easy Yoke, trusting that He has good for us, He works the details out for our good.
There were a few things I wanted in this rest period:
- Weekly nature adventures
- To engage in a Lectio Divina Scripture meditation weekly.
- A 3-4 day personal retreat
- A trip away as a couple- just Darin and I.
- To engage fully in a mindset of rest, only saying “yes” to each activity if it felt restful. This would include chores, cooking, and even church attendance.
Typically, a sabbatical would provide some of these things for you automatically because it oftentimes includes leaving or changing locations for the entirety of the rest period. Since I was not able to do this, I needed to be very intentional with my “yeses.” I would need to become protective of all of my time if I was going to gain the deep benefits of this sabbatical. I am learning that even spiritual responsibilities need to be fully submitted to the Lord as they pertain to rest. When spiritual assignments begin to move into the category of obligation, it is time to rethink our motivations and lay them before the Lord- moving when He says move and being still when He says to be still. This mindset proved to be worth it.
At the beginning of May, my husband transitioned into a different role within his place of employment and this new role provided an incredible opportunity for us. God’s ordained timing is absolutely breath-taking! God dropped it into my heart early in the spring about taking a sabbatical during the months of June and July. Through his new role at work, God provided the opportunity for Darin and I to go to Alaska for a week- just him and I– the beginning of June.
This is how God would begin my sabbatical- by making a way for us to have a trip as a couple, number 4 on my sabbatical list! God deeply cares about the desires of our hearts and will make a way even when there seems to be no way. This is true for when things are difficult and you need rescuing, but it is also true when things are good and you aren’t asking for help or to be rescued. Although it would be enough, God doesn’t only want to rescue you, He also wants to give you the deep desires of your heart. He loves to give good gifts to His children.
Our trip to Alaska set the stage for the rest of my sabbatical. I had been fully immersed in God’s beautiful creation, I had adventured until my heart was content, and I had laughed more than I had in a long time! I had physically, mentally, and emotionally rested and it felt like a strong IV infusion to get me started on this sabbatical journey. I returned home and sat with the Lord. “Lord, what is the purpose of this sabbatical? Is there a scripture or promise You want to give me?”
He took me to Isaiah 30 and unpacked the chapter, showing me His plan for this time:
- To return and rest (vs. 15)
- To learn to sit still (vs. 16)
- To receive His Grace and Compassion (vs. 18)
- So that I can be truly happy. (vs. 18)
He promised me 3 things:
- “I will speak and reveal Myself to you.” (vs. 20)
- “You will know and sense a direction to go.” (vs. 20)
- “You will become lighthearted.” (vs. 29)
Over the next 6 weeks, I spent hours upon hours on my back porch. I swam in the pool. I adventured, did things, and went places I hadn’t been before. And I experienced every single item on my sabbatical desires list. My family was fed, laundry was done- I was still a wife and mother. But it was all done from a mindset of rest.
I said “no” a lot. I offered Grace to myself often and we ate simple meals most days. Toward the end of my time, I recognized times when cooking didn’t feel like a chore- I wanted to cook a large meal for my family because I was mentally rested. Now, I find myself laughing more- a lot more! I find myself feeling more peaceful, less stressed, less tired, and better able to engage with people. It took the entire 2 months to become fully rested in my body and mind. We are a tired people. So tired that we can’t even recognize it in ourselves! I am convinced less is more. God never called us into a rushed busyness of more! more! more! Love takes time. I cannot love God, myself, or others while living in a rush and doing more! more! more!
Less is more because less allows Love to take root. Less allows communion to take place. Less allows conversations and laughter to happen. Less allows the Peace of God to well up in our souls and pour out onto our families and our communities. Less brings clarity of thought. Less provides balanced emotions. Less allows us to fully experience moments. Less brings health into our bodies. Less brings about curiosity. Less provides room for wonder and wander.
If I could sum up what my Sabbatical taught me, it is that doing less is definitely more. Less brings more peace, more joy, more laughter, more growth, and more of His Presence. Join me on the journey…. LESS IS MORE.