Sabbath for Caregivers and Helpers

Originally published in full at the Upper Room Ministries Blog.

As a child, I was taught that Sunday is a time for the Divine, when replenishment and slowing down was a guilt-free and natural part of life. God “rested” on the seventh day, and called it “good.” But through the years, finding time to rest in the stillness and presence of God has become a challenge for me. Sabbath, a day of “rest”? What’s that?

When I was more focused on unfinished tasks when I was supposed to be praising God, my sabbath living suffered. I made the mistake of not putting God first, and my body, mind, and spirit suffered from stress, tiredness, and anxiety. Then I realized that I didn’t need to recreate childhood and depend on Sunday family time and 11:00 a.m. worship to find a sense of sabbath again.

Through these experiences, I learned that I do my best self-care when I seek human connection and community experiences that hold me accountable, not when I just oblige and help others but pause and care for my own personal and spiritual needs: setting aside moments of quiet time, making quality time for loved ones, growing a closer relationship to God, moving my body at least 30 minutes a day. I need external expectations in order to follow through with these internal goals and needs.

I do best when the expectations of others actually help me take care of myself. When I was a child, I was expected to set aside time and go to church on Sundays. Sunday was a break from the normal routine of the busy week. Now, in our culture, Sunday has become just another day for errands, chores, shopping, doing business. We’ve lost something. We have lost the external expectation that we need to break from the norm and break from the busy.

I wrote For Sabbath’s Sake for “helpers” like me, who need a reminder that God put in place the perfect tool to fulfill our human needs: sabbath.

Helping Mom sneak in a milkshake, despite doctors’ orders to the contrary.

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