One of the themes I have seen a lot being promoted in the mental health community in the last 5 years, and rightly so, is the theme of self-care. Taking time and caring for ourselves is important for our mental health. Unfortunately, we often wait until it is too late to practice self-care. This is what happened to me about a year and a half ago. However, self-care is not a new idea. It is an ancient idea prescribed by God himself to his people more than 3000 years ago.
A couple of years ago, I had an invitation from my wife. This invitation was not for a date, but to start a new practice together she has learnt on her spiritual journey. This practice was not new to us at the time, we were already aware of it but just did not practice it as we should have and therefore did not really benefit from it. The practice is an ancient practice we find in the 10 Commandments but that we somehow neglect as Christians these days. Many Christians think this practice was mainly for the Ancient Covenant people but not for us anymore because it is now fulfilled in Christ, therefore not to be observed any longer except for the purpose of worship and going to church so to speak. I am referring her to the practice of Sabbath!
It is helpful to remind ourselves the reasons this ancient practice was established by God in the moral law. The practice of Sabbath was certainly a distinctive of the Jewish people and their faith. It was instituted for two purposes. A religious purpose and a humanitarian purpose. Six days a week, the people of God were to labour and do all their work but one day per week, the Sabbath day, the people of God were commanded to cease work and keep this day holy unto the Lord –Exodus 20. In other words, this day was a sacred day dedicated to the Lord for worship purposes. This was the religious purpose.
But there was also another reason for the practice of Sabbath. It was for humanitarian reason. Simply said, it was for the purpose of rest. That does not mean doing nothing, but doing something else, i.e. rest and restful activities that restore the body and the soul, but not work –Deuteronomy 5. Such activities can be gathering with others to eat and celebrate life, take personal time for reflection, delight, gratitude, contemplating, time for silence and solitude, connecting with our God to be replenished, etc. At the speed life goes on these days, our body needs time to stop, to regroup, process, recover and rest.
These activities may sound boring for many, but if we don’t take the time to stop and process our life and emotions, we might be heading for burnout down the road. Then, you will be forced to take time to recover.
For a family with kids, it means to introduce the kids to this important practice and allow our spouse to have his or her own time to rest and vice versa.
One more thing, we don’t have to practice Sabbath on the 7th day of the week. It can be Sunday, the Lord’s day, or it can be any other day of the week depending on your schedule.
Now back to my wife’s invitation to practice Sabbath. Initially, my reaction to her was “Honey, I don’t have time to practice Sabbath. It is too costly to practice Sabbath”. A few months after this invitation, I was heading for burnout. Then, reflected on the invitation and the practice and decided to go for it with my wife…Best decision ever!
If you have questions about Sabbath, you would like practical tips & ideas to help you practice Sabbath, email me at email@example.com and I will send you a guide on the practice of Sabbath.