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A Sabbath of the Mind

By January 7, 2009No Comments

Worried womanAs I have mentioned in several posts before, I am currently in the throes of planning a wedding. It’s fun, but it’s also kind of insane. I never thought it was possible to put this much time and energy into an event that will last only a few hours.

And while the planning process began in excitement and anticipation, it has since taken on a slightly different tone. Rather than simply enjoy the process, I’ve found myself feeling stressed and anxious about it. I’m thinking about wedding details all the time, and I’m almost completely consumed by it. As a result, I’ve been on edge and easily irritated, less patient and more quick to snap at my fiancé.

The reason for this change is two-fold, the first being a loss of focus. As soon as I make this wedding about me and not about God, then the pressure is on. Suddenly I’m bound by the expectations of others, desiring to put on a wedding that’s impressive and extravagant. It must be better than everyone else’s wedding. And if it’s not perfect, all will be ruined.

That is the place that my mind will go if I let it. That is what happens when I forget Christ.

But the second reason I’ve been so on edge is that I haven’t rested from it. I’m essentially planning the wedding all the time. When I’m not physically  working on the wedding I’m still thinking about it.

And therein lies the real problem–it’s not enough to rest your body. You must also be engaging in a Sabbath of the mind.

I first learned this lesson in my work as a minister. I found myself coming home and telling my roommates or fiancé about the things that had frustrated me that day or the various issues with which I was struggling. I was away from work, but I was still at work in spirit. My mind was constantly spinning as I thought about my ministry, worried about my ministry, and wracked my brain about ministry.

After this pattern went on long enough I began to burn out. I was tired all the time and I was short with my students. My motivation dwindled as my passion was stamped out by fatigue. And at first I was totally puzzled by this. Why wasn’t I feeling rested and restored by my down time?

The reason is that I wasn’t actually resting. My body may have stopped working, but my mind was still in work mode. I may have appeared to be relaxing, but everything else about my orientation was focused on the job.

That is why it is crucial that you give your body AND your mind a weekly Sabbath. What’s more, you need to guard your thought life on a DAILY basis when you are away from work. This can be done in a number of practical ways: Don’t bring your work home with you. When you’re with your family and friends, avoid talking about the problems at work, the people you dislike, and the issues you’re worried about. Find hobbies or activities that you enjoy and can help you to keep your mind off of work.

Right now, this means that I spend intentional time with my fiancé in which we are NOT talking about the wedding.  We need to allow our minds the time to refocus and meditate on the peace that we have in Christ and the greater meaning for this upcoming event in our lives. In doing so, we will free ourselves to actually enjoy the process, one another, and God. When we intentionally allow ourselves to rest, we liberate ourselves from the rat race that ensnares our souls, so be diligent to guard your mind. It needs a break too.

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