Our New Favorite Day (and Our New Favorite Park)

We’ve been working on something new in our family.

Or, to be more specific, we’ve been working on not working, in our family.

My husband loves to work. I love to be around people. And we both have big goals for ourselves collectively and individually. We have a big family. Big responsibilities. And even bigger ideas on how to make the most of this one precious life.

These, are all good things, dear reader. But even good things can wear and weigh a person down if you don’t learn to give yourself – and take – a break.

We all need a break. No matter your age, no matter your current season of life. We all need. a. break.

The good news is we are entirely in control of giving ourselves a break.

The bad news is we are entirely in control of giving ourselves a break.

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I am not good at carving out time to rest from activities that distract me from feeling things. My husband is not good at carving out time to rest…period. And about six months ago, this all came to a head. You can not maintain a lifestyle that fails to include rest without things starting to fall apart. Because in order to move forward in a healthy and meaningful way, you must rest.

Both my husband and I grew up in a church culture that observed Sunday as a “day of rest,” but truth be told Sundays were anything but restful for most of our lives. It’s ironic, that the very people who follow a faith designed around rest are the same ones who fail to rest in the observation of said faith. Or maybe, it’s not really anything more than our tendency to make things much more difficult in our attempt to make things much more certain.

Regardless of your faith practices or walk of life, reader, I’m positive you can relate to the feeling that our weekends are just as full, if not fuller, than our week days. The fullness of life can be overwhelming, and us humans have a way of adding to our struggles by, well, adding. We fill our schedules with things to do and places to go. We fill our minds with obligations and goals. We fill our hearts with the needs and wants and cares of everyone. And I do mean everyone. We fill our homes with noise and clutter and to-do lists to try and manage the noise and clutter.  We try and we do and we go and we go and we go.

And so, we are learning. For the past six months or so, Mike and I have been attempting to practice a weekly day of rest. A sabbath. A re-set day. A day where one of the few guiding rules is simply – no work. And “not working” looks differently for each of us.

I say “one of the few rules” because another keystone of faith communities is a tendency to take good and beautiful things that are supposed to offer freedom and saddle it with so many rules that the practice itself becomes another unbearable burden to maintain. And so, for us, we run everything through the filter of two questions: is it restful? (Does it restore us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?) and is it worshipful? (Does it reflect gratitude, honor, and reverence for the one who made us, and made us to rest?)

Our Sunday’s have become more and more simple as a result, and it’s been fabulous. We attend our church’s Sunday morning service because it is a wonderful place that offers restoration in every way and facilitates worship that is both meaningful collectively and individually. But beyond that, we don’t make plans for Sunday. We don’t accept invitations to hang out with other people and we don’t invite others over. We love to do those things (especially me!), but we have six other days of the week to socialize. We don’t check things off our to-do list and we don’t work on projects because, again, we have six other days to be productive! Sundays in our home are for eating well (I do still cook, because eating great food nourishes me physically and spiritually, but I don’t do dishes!), taking naps, reading, listening to music, playing games, time spent outside, and great conversations.

Most Sundays, outside of church, we don’t go anywhere because, let’s be honest, loading up the van with four kids and going anywhere isn’t exactly restful. But because having FUN is an important part of our day of rest, we do occasionally made short trips to enjoy things as a family. We might go for a walk or even just a drive.

This past Sunday was a beautiful day. We had enjoyed another morning in our church and came home happy and ready to be together as a family. I made lunch and afterwards the kids went down for naps. Mike made us coffee and the two of us enjoyed some quiet moments together talking about some important things that we had each been thinking and feeling lately. We were both fully present in that moment, at peach with each other and within ourselves. Because we had nothing to rush off to, we were able to enjoy one of the greatest gifts of taking weekly rest – the space to reflect and gain perspective. Our conversations, as a result, have taken on a richness and depth that have encouraged my heart and strengthened our bond.

As we were talking, we kept noticing how beautiful of a day it was and so, once the kids woke up, I moved outside with a book and Mike took the boys out to play baseball. But the day begged to be enjoyed to the fullest – as days in late September often do – so we picked a new playground off of the Parks & Playgrounds list from the Northeast Ohio Family Fun website and off we went!Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

The Carolyn Ludwig Mugrage Park located in Media County was, without a doubt, the best playground we’ve ever visited. It’s great for kids of all ages and was surrounded by walking paths and tons of green space. And just behind the playground area is a small lake with a paved walking path that was perfect for Theo to ride his bike while the rest of us walked and soaked up the views. It. Was. Perfect.

I recently heard someone say that creation wasn’t complete until it was enjoyed. That’s why God gave us Sunday, a day to rest. It’s what makes us complete. We aren’t complete by what we achieve. We are complete by what we release. At the heart of choosing to rest is choosing to give up control. To rest, we have to release our grasp, turn our eyes away from what we want and towards what is, and simply be in the presence of our day. This, is no small feat. I feel you on this. But this, is also necessary. This, is what is needed. This is what it means to be fully human. And it is good.

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