Savior of the world (or at least my world).
All of these and more. That was me.
Until I wasn’t. Until I was stopped.
This mom of four, wife of one, ministry leader, job holder, keeper of an ordered house, ducks-in-a-row, mover and shaker stopped.
Little did I know then, but a terrible and precious gift had been given to me that changed my world: the word STOP.
After this emergency STOP in my life (which came as a complete nervous breakdown… the summer where my four kids ate goldfish for breakfast and watched endless amounts of TV instead of the completing the summer transition homework I usually planned for them… it might have been their best summer ever), I began to question the value of this word.
Was there room for me to rest, take a break, actually stop?
Would the world I carefully crafted fall apart without me?
I wasn’t sure. For so long, I had worked and solved and rushed and moved. Fear gripped me as I even dared to wonder.
At the same time, I never wanted that forced STOP again. It had been horrible, filled with anxiety, panic attacks, and sheer dread. I was desperate to do something, anything for my parched and exhausted soul.
With fear strangling me from the inside out, a soft brave Voice kept wooing me to something different, something scary, yet satiating and life-giving.
Words like “sabbath” and “margin” kept popping up and I came across a book I avidly read, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth. The author is a former emergency room physician (can’t get any more important or busier) about how his life was transformed physically, spiritually, relationally and emotionally in his “always-on” world by adopting the practice of sabbath (which literally means STOP in Hebrew).
My dehydrated soul drank every word in, giving me a thirst to know and explore more.
I came away with a glimmer of hope, yet still with an anxious heart.
Can I work 24/6 and rest 24/1?
Do I even have permission?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DO?
These questions haunted me in all the good, loving, Holy-Spirit-speaking-to-me ways!
I'm not going to lie. I was petrified!
But I had to do something. Start somewhere.I began with baby steps, only 6 hours, the time the kids were in school.
It was NOT easy.
My anxiety skyrocketed as I closed the laundry room door, shut off my phone and accomplished nothing. I was sure my world would come crashing down.
I literally took naps and did nothing of any consequence.
As a result (wait for it.............)
NOTHING changed on the outside.
Bills were still paid.
Kids were still fed.
Friends still loved me.
Jobs got done.
However, much began to change on the inside.
Being allowed to be off-duty encouraged me.
Saying “no” to my kids empowered me.
The rest I so desperately needed calmed my adrenaline-addicted body.
I enjoyed every moment of this “sabbath,” not wanting it to end.
I replaced the sips of healing with the courageous plunge into the deep and good waters of restoration.
Being a recovering work-a-holic (that I still am even today), I knew it had to be drastic.
I drew a line in the sand!
More anxiety came with this next step. No change in my outside world once again. Much more change on the inside. This human doing began to give room for a human being.
It’s been TWELVE whole years. TWELVE.
Sometimes, there are weeks when I miss, because of circumstances supposedly beyond my control (and my people will tell you I get a bit cranky).
Other times, I am still edgy, worried and fretful about all the tasks and problems that seem to jump into my life and my lap, and I struggle to "shut the laundry room door."
But God gently nudges me toward true bravery and I take that very first step all over again, taking a super size "sabbath" drink from the well of 24/1.
Many questions have been asked time and again:
• What do you do all day?
• How does everything get done?
• Isn’t that legalistic?
• Do you watch TV?
• What if I have kids?
• What do I have to stop doing? Gardening? Painting? Social media?
• Does it have to be a full 24 hours?
Of course, I don't have all the answers, but I know it’s not a quick, change-in-a-moment kind of thing. It’s a heart-wrenching, life-time haul, slow-moving, one small act of courage kind of thing.
And, my friend, you have to do YOU. And how it plays out for you may be completely different than how it works for me.
For now, I leave you with three of the many small gifts that I have received from my 24/6 adventure:
• The world goes on without me and I don’t have to be the savior of it (even in crazy, fast-paced, over-the-top culture).
• I have room for not “shoulding” all over myself for one 24-hour period.
• I am never going back.
Remember, at the start of this journey when I nervously asked,
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DO?
Now I ask a much different question (and have experienced the answer to it),
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DON'T?
From my heart to yours,
P.S. Today is my Sabbath so I might be off in fantasy land with a book, dream land with a nap or football land with the playoffs (my favorite of all).
P.P.S. One more fun thing. My husband and I have began to call it Celebration Sunday. The day we celebrate that ALL THE SHOULDS are off the table and we can JUST ENJOY!!! You'll be hearing more about that in the next few weeks as we head into Lent (be on the lookout)!