Friday, May 16, 2014

How I Thought Being a Mom Disqualified Me from the Sabbath

I grew up on Little House on the Prairie reruns and flannel board Sunday school lessons. Good and wholesome. But somewhere between Nellie Oleson's antics and the fabric loaves and fishes, I missed a few key points.
Like what I believed about the Sabbath.
I thought God finished all his making-the-world work in six days, so with nothing to do on the seventh he rested, and we ought to do the same.

As a freckled-nose third grader I envisioned early believers busting their faithful behinds to tend the fields, thresh the wheat, and bake the bread, dawn till dusk, six days a week so on the seventh day they could stop working and sit in holy righteousness.   
Though I’ve grown in faith and stature, my understanding of God’s command to rest has remained Half Pint size like my favorite Ingalls family character.
I saw the Sabbath as a simple noun: A place for resting. A thing you do that means doing nothing at all. 
As mama to three young children, I counted myself out.
Because the mom job never stops. 
There is no end to making meals or changing diapers. Sure, I could let the dishes go undone and the laundry pile up for one more day. But the work of mothering can’t be stored up and finished.
So if it's impossible to stop working, I reasoned, then it's impossible to keep the Sabbath. 

I thought I was disqualified.
How could I make 24 hours calm and quiet with three wild boys? My sons won’t sit all day and whittle toy trains out of blocks of wood. Their legs can’t help but run; their lungs breathe to shout.

I was disqualified from the spiritual duty (would-be luxury) of a day of rest. Like I didn’t even have a Sabbath chance.

But then I had to ask, Would God really do that?

Would He really give a command that mamas couldn’t keep? And not just mothers, but fathers and farmers, doctors saving lives on Sundays and preachers who spend the Sabbath preaching. 

Did God disqualify them all?

No, that can't be right.

I must have gotten something wrong.

I'm a word girl who learns from writing—I go back and read to find the wrong.

The Holy Spirit shines a light on my mistake.

Noun: PERSON, place, and thing. 

I forgot the person. 

Could Sabbath mean keeping company with the person of God?

Oh, yes! Breathes my soul.

I wrack my brain for anything else missed:

A word could be a noun and a verb. Like fly. The buzzing thing with six legs, two wings. But it’s also an action! To take flight. Soar!

Defining Sabbath as a state of inaction could be completely upside down backwards.

Rest is more than being sedentary or asleep. Rest is reflecting, remembering. Giving thanks for all the great things God has done! Rest is refocusing. Fixing our eyes on things above.

Maybe I can keep the Sabbath even in motherhood.

I Sabbath when I plop beside my boys, phone away, just sit and play.

I Sabbath when I prop my feet on the back porch stool, watch squirrels scurry and scribble down the morning’s gifts.

I Sabbath when we hike the canyon. Snapping photos of boys with blue-bellied lizards and spiky-backed caterpillars. I Sabbath breathing in nature’s perfume and marveling over sticks and snakes with my sons.

I Sabbath when we pull back the covers and kids climb in bed for snuggles warm and long.

Maybe as a mom I have this Sabbath thing down better than I thought.

Maybe I’m not disqualified at all.

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Blessed to share my story with The High Calling community over the theme Keeping the Sabbath. Also sharing with the How I....Sabbath linkup over at Elise's most delightful blog, The Giving Place.


Mindy Rogers said...

"Defining Sabbath as a state of inaction could be completely upside down backwards."

Can I just burn this into my brain and call it a day?! This post is so Spirit-led and completely encouraging me to sabbath this weekend.

Sabbath as a verb...who would have thought?!

Jody Lee Collins said...

Oh, Becky....I clicked on over via the Sabbath link up at the High Calling. This is so right on and what I've found to be so true. If we find the Sabbath rest in the middle of our crazy days--find the Person...that's really the heart of it. Great post!

Shelly Miller said...

Oh, I love this and so glad that Jennifer pointed the way here. From the beginning of your Laura Ingalls life to the present with three active boys, Sabbath is possible because God created it, not as another spiritual hoop to jump through but because he knows how much we need it. He loves us that much! I started a Sabbath Society about a year and half ago for those who are determined to make rest a routine and not an elective. We are an eclectic group of more than 200 all over the world. I plan to share your post with them next week.

Alysa said...

Hopped over from THC linkup. What a way to define Sabbath, Becky! "Keeping company with God." Breathing this in and appreciating your perspective.

Katie Kump said...

Thank you for sharing, Becky! Not a mama yet, but I definitely wrestled with this when I was first married. Sabbath no longer meant selfish, which is ultimately good, but it requires intentional self-reminding that Sabbath is a Person. Grateful for your wisdom here. Much love!

Kristy Collins said...

Love this...and love that you loved Little House on the Prairie, too!

Elise Hurd said...

I hope you realize what a gift you have, Becky!

I'm sure you've heard that before, but I just have to say it straight because the Spirit moves and breathes through your words and I can't pick just one thing I like because the whole post is art.

Brilliant. God-honoring. Spot on.

Definitely, never, disqualified from His embrace.

He's crazy about you!

Thanks so much for linking up -- what a gift!

Elise Hurd said...

P.S. That pic of all your men tromping down the trail is great! Made me smile!

Kathryn Shirey said...

Love how you are finding Sabbath moments. I think Sabbath can look different for each of us as we're in different seasons of life.