While attending grad school for my master’s degree in counseling, I had to complete what were known as “Professional Development Plans,” which required me to select growing edges that I was hoping to develop. I remember feeling like I needed to learn how to rest, and to simply “be.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that true rest would be unobtainable if I was always striving and working to be approved of. Not just by others, but by myself. Wearing myself ragged to prove my own value. Earning those top-notch grades, saying yes to avoid offending others, forfeiting my own health just to prove I was doing something worthwhile, and not wasting space or time. What a tiring rat race. How do you win such a marathon? Is there really an end in sight when you cannot accept a “well done” or “good job,” out of a fear that you still haven’t proven yourself worthy of such compliments?
The word Sabbath was not in my personal vocabulary, though it always should have been. I heard people discuss the importance of a Sabbath, and I knew my own husband had lived amongst many Jewish people who devoutly observed it. It sounded lovely for THEM, but not possible for ME. I was just too stinkin’ busy! AND…I didn’t know what I would even DO with myself on a Sabbath! But even that should reveal something. The point is not to do, but to rest. The point is not to achieve and work, but to relinquish those things for a holy and sacred time of non-work. Of thanksgiving, of rejuvenation, and slowing down (or coming to a screeching halt in my case!)
I still have a lot of work to do on this front, but I am learning. Isn’t it amazing how there are certain times when you simply cannot keep barreling ahead full-steam? When unexpected circumstances, sickness, or life-transitions simply forbid the norm and the onslaught of appointments, calls, meetings, and madness? Those moments when you can’t keep up, when you can’t run with the pack as usual. Thank God for those moments. Thank the Lord that we have a limit, and that we are continuously called back to an observance of holy rest and rejuvenation.
I have returned many a time to a specific Gospel passage, and today it resounds again in my heart. It is not on the topic of Sabbath, but on knowing the importance of when there is something greater than work and preparations in our midst. It is about knowing when Jesus is in our presence and available, and whether or not we are open and aware of it.
Read with me: “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10:38-42 (NET)
Sometimes we simply need to sit and listen. We rush about, to and fro, with worries aplenty about temporal troubles. But we’re called to choose the greater thing…that which will not be taken away from us. Maybe Jesus is calling my name today. “Haley, Haley…” Maybe He is calling yours.