Don't you just love your kids? Aren't they one of the very best gifts God has ever given you? As much as we love our kids, they do wear us out. Now let me ask you this, how is your energy level? When was the last time you stopped to take some time of rest for you? No, I'm not talking about a nap, or asking your husband or friend to watch/carpool around your kids so you could get a break, but a true rest, a sabbath? If you can’t remember, read on.
One of the best things I did as a young mom was to begin taking a Sabbath rest. Did I have time for it? No. Was it a necessity? I learned the answer to that question was YES! When my third child was about 12 months, I was overwhelmed. This wasn’t the first time I was overwhelmed as a mom, but this time I was about ready to give up. My temper was getting short, my patience low and my energy level was below zero! Have you ever been there? Don't get me wrong, I loved being a stay at home mom, but I was EXHAUSTED. What could I do? I couldn’t see an end in sight where I could refuel.
Guess who had the answer? My sweet and thoughtful husband. He said to me one night when he could see my desperation, "Hon, why don't I book you a hotel room next weekend? I'll set it all up, watch the kids and you go take a break." My immediate response was ”What? Really? Oh, that sounds like heaven, but I can't do that." My husband said, “Why not? I'm booking it for you right now. You need this. Let me do it for you.”
So, after praying and getting over the guilty feelings I had for leaving my kids and husband for the weekend, I was out the door and off on my very first two day/two-night mommy Sabbath rest. It was a bit of a strange feeling at first walking into the hotel room, alone. How would I spend all this free time? Free time had now become foreign to me, but here is a glimpse into my weekend. I got to sleep (uninterrupted), eat (uninterrupted), shower (uninterrupted), enjoy a TV show (uninterrupted), shop (uninterrupted), go to the bathroom…are you starting to see a pattern here? It was amazing! All the simple things I used to take for granted before kids now felt like heaven. Can you sense my spirit changing from exhausted, impatient, and short tempered to peaceful, restful, and thankful?
Without a doubt, the most meaningful part of my weekend was the sweet (uninterrupted) time with my Savior. I was in the middle of a Bible study called Captivating with my close girlfriends. Being away from the kids, I could spend as much time as I wanted working on this study which led me into reading my Bible, singing praise songs, praying, and just hanging out with Jesus. It was AWESOME! While using the Captivating study to direct my God Time that weekend, the Lord met me right in my current struggles of motherhood of exhaustion and feeling like I was not enough for this overwhelming role as a mom and wife. Jesus encouraged my soul in the most personal ways. My homework for Captivating that week was to ask God why He thinks I am beautiful. As I asked God that one question and began to journal, the result was page after page of encouragement to my soul from what I sensed was the Holy Spirit putting thoughts in my heart and mind. He spoke loud and clear to me (not audibly of course) through His Word, my prayers and my journaling. He told me ‘Laurel, you are enough just as you are. You’re beautiful. You’re Mine. You’re enough.” The truths He taught me that weekend have been a source of strength for me in my role as a mom ever since.
A Sabbath is not a set of rules to keep, but it is a reminder of our dependence on God. We need Him, and we can find rest in Christ amidst the chaos that our world can bring. Jesus even gave us a personal invitation in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Sabbath is a reminder to abide daily in His rest and His Spirit. Jesus Himself IS our Sabbath rest. Sabbath is not only when you take extended times of rest, but can also be the intentional act of pausing in your day to rest, to spend time with Jesus whether in prayer, reading the Bible or worship. The Hebrew word sabat means “to rest or stop or cease from work”. God even modeled this rest for us. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) Remember, we are made in His image. God knew we would need a time of rest as He did, and commanded us to build it into our lives not only for physical needs, but also for spiritual needs.
My Sabbath rest at the hotel renewed me, refreshed me, gave me physical rest, lifted my spirit of perseverance, and gave me a longing to be back with my family when my rest was over. Ultimately though, this time reminded me that Jesus Himself is my source for rest. Have you made time to stop, get alone for a few days and rest? Maybe this would give God another opportunity to encourage your soul right where you are at in your current stage of motherhood and get some much-needed physical rest? Why not?
Several thoughts might be running through your head right now: *I don't have the time? Be intentional in making time for rest, it will almost never just appear. *I have no one to watch my kids? Pray and ask God to provide a way for a mother’s Sabbath rest for you. Ask your husband if he will watch the kids or swap kids with a friend, each providing an extended rest for the other. *We don't have the money to go to a hotel. You do not have to go to a hotel. Be creative, you can spend the day at a park, a lake, Starbucks, the library, your church, shopping, meeting a friend, etc. and return after the kids are in bed and then repeat the next day. Or better yet, ask a friend if you can stay in her guest bedroom and tell her to pretend you are not there! I know you are creative and you'll think of some great alternatives. Ask God to show you. He will!
Ever since my first mother’s Sabbath rest I have taken many more. They have all looked a little different. Some were alone, just Jesus and I all weekend. Some were taken with special girlfriends. Sometimes I didn't feel like I really needed it, but my husband encouraged me to do it anyway, and I was glad I listened. God has used these extended Sabbath rests to speak truth into my life, touch my heart in personal and unforgettable ways to strengthen my faith, and refresh my spirit and attitude. This reminds me, I'm ready for another one!
So, are you ready? What are you waiting for?