I wake up before my toddler, waddle my pregnant body to the kitchen, and begin prepping my morning luxury—a hot cup of French press coffee. I’ve lost count of how many weeks we’ve been quarantined because of the coronavirus pandemic, and if you ask me, I’d have to think hard to remember what day of the week it is.
It’s Sunday, I remind myself. The only difference between today and tomorrow is that I’ll have to keep my daughter occupied as I attempt to watch the virtual church service this morning. I already have a strategy of snacks and games to keep her occupied, but I know that we’ll have at least one meltdown in the middle of the sermon.
Other than that hour balancing my own spiritual health and my daughter’s needs, it’s like any other day of the week. During the pandemic, my husband has been working from home in our upstairs office, and as an officer in the Army Reserves, he sometimes has to work weekends. But, really, there is no weekend anymore; COVID-19 has leveled out our schedule into daily uniformity.
What is even the point of Sunday right now? I think to myself as I savor my coffee and watch my daughter squirm in her bed on the baby monitor. Only weeks into this “unprecedented time,” I already feel the daily drudgery overwhelming me. I do the same work I’ve been doing the last six days; how is this supposed to be my Sabbath rest?
This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered how a mother is supposed to practice Sabbath rest when children never take a day off. I began this year reading The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan and was challenged when, pages in, he wrote, “A Sabbath heart is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval. It is attentive to the presence of God and others even in the welter of much coming and going.” So how could I cultivate this attitude of stillness in a season of monotonous yet overwhelming busyness?
Preparing my home on Saturday
Dishes, laundry, cooking—my to-do list never seems to have an end date. Yet I’ve recently disciplined myself to put away these daily chores for one day, the Sabbath. I unload the dishwasher late Saturday night and make sure the washing machine is empty (even if clothes are still piled high on top). I prepare much of the food we will eat the next day, and I close my planner. While I wake up on Sunday itching to get ahead on household duties, by intentionally setting them aside for the day, I am reminding myself that my Creator holds together my home and my family. I still fix breakfast and wipe bottoms, but by stripping my day down to the bare basics, I choose to rest.
Planning activities that provide my heart rest
In college and early adulthood, Sabbath meant two things—church and long naps. As I became a mother, I realized that there’s more to rest than sleeping in; it’s about finding activities that provide our hands and minds rest. This will be different for each mother, but I have found that slow walks through our neighborhood with my family brings stillness to my heart. As someone who’s always rushing to get somewhere, walking at the pace of a toddler reminds me to slow down and take in what is around me. Even though I’m still acting in my role as mother on those evening strolls, they change the speed of life to bring my heart rest.
Pausing to listen to God’s voice
We hear a lot of voices during the week—husband, children, friends—and often the loudest voices are those on social media. The Sabbath is a day to focus on the voice that matters most: our Creator’s. This doesn’t mean you tell your husband and kids to be quiet for twenty-four hours. For me, this has meant deleting or blocking social media on Sunday so that the time I usually spend mindlessly scrolling through recipes and blogs instead is spent focused on God. If you’re like me, you may not get hours to yourself to quietly enjoy Scripture and prayer, but you can spend those little pockets of the day refocusing your heart and mind on the voice of God.
Not every Sunday looks like this; I never want my rest to become another way to feel “mom guilt” for another unmet expectation. Yet I have noticed that as I set aside time and space to rest my mind and heart on Sunday, I have felt more emotional, spiritual, and physical energy to continue loving my family the rest of the week. By recognizing my God-created limitations, I can live in the freedom of his limitless love and goodness throughout my week.