Start Small, Start with Sabbath


Start with the one day, this week, and declare a slender victory for the gift of being human in God’s good and gorgeous world.

It is permissible.

Of course, it is.

You can work two very important jobs, you can blog, tweet, manage social media for several organizations until you think in 140-character sound-bites. You can even write book proposals, sign contracts, do it all. You can volunteer at church programs, and sign the tinies up for soccer practice two nights a week, handle drop-offs-and-pick-ups. You can clean your house, make beds every day, and cook three meals a day, and you can try to stay on top of the laundry. You can exhaust yourself on an elliptical training machine while listening to sermons on podcast. You can purchase eco-yarn to make handknit baby sweaters for all the new babies of your friends. You can meet friends and family three nights a week, and attend a home group, too.

You can go go go go go go and you can do do do do do and you can tell yourself things like “Good things come to those who hustle” and you can pride yourself on your work ethic.

You can mutli-task like a mama octopus, and you can rise early after going to bed (too) late. You can pull down deep to your prairie-kid work ethic, top it off with some good old Protestant fear of idle hands, a side of the evangelical hero complex. You can fill your life with “should” and “ought to” and “must” and make colour-coded lists, download a few iPhone apps for productivity. You can put your tinies to bed, saying “no” to their requests for another story, another song, another snuggle, because, darling, can’t you see? Mama has so much work to do.

And then, like most women, you can berate yourself for all the things you want to do and don’t do, all the things you think that Good Christian Women do. You can think about exercise and losing weight, about Bible studies, and helping orphans and widows, about money, about the whole hurting world. You can spend your emotional energy  on all the ways you don’t measure up, sure, I’m doing this, but it’s not enough, it’s never enough, I’m never enough. You can look around at other women, other women you admire in real life or online or in bookstores or on TV, and think, well, look at her! I don’t know how she does it! I must work harder, I must do more.

It’s permissible. (But it is not beneficial.)

Deep breath now. Exhale. Go on.

If you are waiting for permission, here it is:  you are allowed to step off that crazy-making highway.

Start small perhaps?

Start with Sabbath. With the practice of intentional rest, once a week, one day when you radically care for your soul by stepping back from the expectations–external and internal–a day to pull over to the side of the highway, and go for a walk in the meadow you’re always driving by. Start there. You are allowed to take a day off from it all, to rest and renew, to worship, to press pause.

It’s permissible to stop. To take a step off the merry-go-round of our culture’s expectations on women, wives, mothers, friends, on Good Christian Women. It’s permissible to go to bed on time and sleep well. And to laugh at the days to come. It’s okay to shut off the damn computer, turn your phone to silent, and let the constant email pile up, forget your Facebook messages for a day (or a week).

It’s permissible to let the laundry sit unfolded, to take one day off from “should” and “ought to” and “must.” It’s permissible to practice radical self-care, read a magazine for fun, ride bikes with your children, draw with sidewalk chalk on the street, make a meal out of real food.

It’s permissible to pour a glass of white wine and sit out on the back deck, put your red lipstick on, flirt shamelessly with that man of yours, you know, instead of cleaning up the supper dishes. It’s okay to make love in the morning, to watch a movie that makes you feel good. It’s okay to go for a walk by yourself, no iPod, and pray-talk your way around the neighbourhood, at  leisurely pace.

If you are tired, worn out, burned out, start small. Start with the Sabbath, luv.

Start with the one day, this week, and declare a slender victory for the gift of being human in God’s good and gorgeous world, created with pleasure and delight. Start with the revolution of Sabbath, with the counter-cultural revolution of slowing down, of one-thing-at-a-time, of delight, of worship, of an ancient practice for your working-it-out soul.

It is permissible. And this one? Also beneficial.

– Sarah


So, my SheLoves friends … your turn:

  • Will you practice Sabbath this week? How will you practice a bit of radical self-care?


Photo credit: Ontario horses, by Erin Wilson Photography

Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey is the author of Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith and Jesus Feminist. She is an award-winning blogger and writer who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband and their four tinies. You can find her online at or on Twitter at @sarahbessey.
Sarah Bessey

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