No Unsabbathed Life

We expect hard work in our house.

Early in our marriage, my husband went 5 years without taking a vacation for a variety of reasons.

After five years of no time to slow down, no time to assess, no time to renew, we had some very serious talks about changing our rhythms. By the end of the five years, we had also brought two kids into the world to add to the rapid tempo of our lives.

Finally, we heeded the words of a mentor who warned us, “you either take a break to refresh or you will have to take a break to recover.” It was already clear we were needing the later.

When we finally stepped away, one thing became evident, we had lived an unsabbathed life, and we didn’t want that for our kids.

This did not mean we wanted to expect less from them. It meant we needed to practice with them, teach them and train them.

 Our kids are now in upper elementary school. They do their homework, play hard outside, go to swim practice, and take leadership roles in church. The kids have daily chores that they do not get paid for and additional chores if they want allowance. 

We talk about doing things with loyalty, respect, and excellence and more often than not, the kids rise to this standard. But we know firsthand that type of work ethic can be dangerous without the harmony of slowing down, living in the moment, and taking deep breaths. We want the kids to know God still sings without them strumming, and it is important to stop and listen.

To cultivate the practice of creating an acoustic space, when our kids started school, we gave them two vacation days a semester, four days a school year.

Just like real-life vacation days, these are their days to use how they want. We hope they choose to meander around a museum, hike along a river trail, or hide away in the mountains for a bit, but the choice is up to them. 

If my son feels too tired to go to school and just wants to sleep, he can. If my daughter doesn’t finish a project and needs an extra day, that is her decision. We coach them and encourage them to think through what they are choosing, but we leave it in their hands.

They get two days a semester, but only two days. 

It was hard to start. These days don’t include weekends, school holidays or true sick days for the kids which made us feel guilty about doing them. Additionally, my husband and I both worked full-time from offices, so we had to commit to taking our own vacation days to facilitate our kids having them. Despite the inconvenience, we knew how important this life practice was.

The point of sabbath days has never been just for a break. The purpose is for the kids to be responsible about how to use their days and responsible to request them. We want our children to learn the value of, to advocate for, and to be wise in rest.

Talented composers understand powerful notes are made better by spaces of rest, of silences, of stillness. The music lingers as listeners catch their breath.

Yes, we expect hard work in our house, not without the vitality of sabbath. We don’t teach soul-care in our house because it is fun, even though it often is. We teach it because just as we want our kids to know how to cook or do laundry before they move out of our house, we also want them to know how to put into practice these critical and holy moments.

We want our kids to practice sabbath so they can live sabbath practices.

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