“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His Work which God had created and made.”
– Genesis 2:2-3
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.”
– Exodus 20: 8-10
This article is being written as a reminder to myself and a permission slip to all women that it’s ok to say no, it’s ok to take time for yourself and it’s ok to rest.
I recently had my first child, moved to a new state, got a new job and am in the process of buying a house. Since we moved, it’s been go go go- every second planned, full steam ahead figuring out everything. Simple things like grocery shopping or scheduling at work take longer because we’re getting used to the new store or learning a new system. The baby is learning to crawl, and will get up on his hands and knees and make these grunting noises- he’s so close to the goal, but just not quite there yet! I told him the other day that I know how he feels. Being so close to settled, but not quite there yet! And so I bring work home to try to get on top of it, and sign up for things at work and church to get involved in the new community, and give my undivided attention to the baby whenever he’s awake because I have to go to work and can’t always be around him…
I was a music major in college, and would accompany musicians as a job to earn extra money. My typical load was four accompaniment jobs a semester. One year I was given my accompaniment list, and there were ten names on it! I went right to the professor in charge of scheduling and said that something is wrong, I can’t take on ten jobs, I always do four and that is all I have time for. She huffed at me and said they need me to do ten this semester because they are low staffed and I would just need to figure it out. We compromised at seven. That semester was incredibly challenging. I found myself living at the music building balancing rehearsals for the seven students I was accompanying on top of keeping up with my own school work. I vowed to never be afraid to stand up for my limits again. I KNEW I only had time and energy for four students, and yet I gave in to the pressure.
When my husband and I got married we made a rule that we would not bring home work to do at home. When we’re home we’re home, and when we’re at work we’re at work. We spend our family time being a family and not focused on our jobs. This was a huge adjustment for me, but was so worth it! Our evenings were spent going on runs, going out with friends, playing board games or watching Netflix. Being together. This boundary created a wonderful foundation and definition for our marriage.
About two years ago I went to the doctor complaining of an ear infection. He took a look and said that I actually had shingles! Sure enough, the shingles spread from inside my ear all along the side of my face into my mouth and down my neck. It was the worst! So painful and itchy! The doctors remedy for healing was to rest. Upon diagnosing the shingles he asked if I was going through a stressful time. Sure enough, I was! It was a taxing time in my personal and professional life-and the last thing on my mind was to stop and rest. So I took it as a sign that it was time to change when my body and my doctor were telling me to slow down and rest.
All this to say, that in the process of having a child, moving to a new state, starting a new job and trying to buy a house I have not been saying no, taking time for myself, or resting! Not at all! As it happens my birthday just passed, and it dawned on me that what I wanted to do for my birthday was to say no to getting together with friends/family, and instead get a pedicure, spend time with my husband and son, go on a walk and sit down and watch a movie. Say no, take time for myself and rest. Amid all the newness I had fallen into old habits of taking on everything at once- and my birthday ‘wants’ reminded me the importance of letting my “to do” list include doing things for myself that are restful.
I love that in the Creation story, and again in the Ten Commandments the Lord encourages time with no work, time to rest. Society used to lend itself to helping us have resting times. Stores would be closed on Sundays and holidays, families would have big Sunday dinners together and enjoy the time spent with no real responsibilities. Now, the concept of a day of the week where you do nothing but relax is so foreign. I mean, with Amazon Prime, even the mail doesn’t rest on Sunday! Saying no, taking a break and taking care of yourself has to be an intentional decision.
Before we moved my girlfriends and I scheduled specific days that we called our ‘bow’ days. We knew we would soon not live near each other anymore, so to make the most out of the time we had we would plan these days where we would do special things. We put a ‘bow’ on our last year together and made a point of creating times to be restful. Our ‘bow’ year is the most in touch I’ve been with personal boundaries, taking time to do things I love with people I love and taking intentional time to breathe.
As I said at the beginning of the article, I write this as reminder to myself- but I hope it resonates with other women. Do your work with your whole heart, but additionally allow yourself to stop working every once and a while! Never feel guilty about needing to say no, taking time for yourself or resting. In fact, the Lord recommends one day a week!