I didn’t always observe the Sabbath. In fact, I was convicted to keep it for years before actually beginning the practice of honoring Shabbat. I grew up with Sunday as our day of worship, and when I began to feel convicted about keeping the Sabbath–on the actual Sabbath as I believe the Bible commands, I heard the justifications from many Christians of how it doesn’t matter when we keep the Sabbath as long as we have a “day of rest”. The thing is, I’ve had the traditional Sunday-Day-Of-Rest experience for almost my entire life. That wasn’t what I was convicted of, nor what I understood from my reading, of what I was to do.
So I talked to my husband about it. More than a few times. Verbalizing my struggle, verbalizing my questions, allowing myself to process the fact that I was feeling like this was a big deal and that I was uncomfortable with doing it, and with not doing it. Finally, I decided I was going to do it.
Observing the Sabbath has changed me. At first, it was a struggle. I didn’t know how I was going to manage not doing my regular work (laundry, dishes, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, homeschool prep, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning). What would happen to the house? What would happen to my sanity that was questionable anyway? Why do I feel selfish? How do I deal with feeling lazy (feelings not based on truth, but feelings, nonetheless)?
I slowly transitioned. First, implementing that on the Sabbath, I would study some Biblical topic of interest. Next, rushing to get my work down prior to sundown on Friday. This was followed by looking into what the flow of the Sabbath meal/service was to be. I printed document after document, watched YouTube videos, and did everything I could to learn what the burning flame in my soul was being called to do.
And then recently, a few months into this, I realized something. I am no longer eager to study a Biblical topic just on the Sabbath–I’m instead doing it all week long. I’m eager to share Biblical scholarly lectures with my children on our car rides, and to read entire books of the Bible at a time, with completely new insight than I ever had before. I’m less depressed. Less frantic.
I’ve learned that having that 24 hours from Friday through Saturday to continue my mindless cycle of never ending housework doesn’t actually help me get anything done. I was so fearful of being “behind” a day, only to find that that day never helped me get ahead or behind to begin with. In fact, the opposite has happened. Because I’m not doing my “normal” work on Shabbat, I’m getting all of the other things “done” that I never had time for before. Research. Beautifying my house. Getting rid of accumulated piles of papers. Making gifts for my children. So many important things that I never got to before because they were always at the bottom of my list.
I’ve seen it change my children. They are so peaceful having a whole day to rest. We have a special Shabbat Box with toys, books, and videos that are only to be used on Shabbat. They are eager to light the candles, blow the shofar, receive specific blessings, break the bread, and talk about Shabbat every week. The tradition, meaning, and experience is something they look forward to, and as my daughter said, they “wish every day could be the Sabbath!”
I did not change for the Sabbath. The Sabbath changed me.