2018-05-21

Six Steps to Sabbath Simplicity

“I’m so busy!” How many times a day do you hear (or say) that? Our lives are hectic, in part because of the 24/7 culture we live in. But some of the stress comes from our own choices. We say “yes” too often. We overload our schedules. We long for a simpler life, but we’re not sure how to get there.

Over the years, I’ve taken steps to simplify my life, to live in what I call Sabbath Simplicity—a sanely paced, God-focused life. Here are six simple (of course!) steps to finding the simplicity you long for.

Get Real About the Pace of Your Life

How many commitments do you have each week? How many hours are devoted to work? Volunteering? How many hours do you spend in the car? Write out your weekly schedule, along with the schedule of your family members. Is there any downtime?

Write it out—you need a good, close, exact look at where you are.

Be Honest About Your Motivation

Consider your motives for being busy. Our culture often equates busyness with significance, and rest with laziness.

While it is important to fully engage with our work or our families, we also need time to disengage, to rest. Many of us are not only sleep deprived, we’re rest deprived. We don’t have enough time to relax, to connect with our loved ones, or to nurture ourselves.

What motivates you to be as busy as you are?

Value Relationships Over Productivity

Our hurried lifestyle isolates us. How many times have you promised to connect with a friend, but you just don’t have time? If you’re a parent, do you have any time in your week where you can just enjoy your children?

If we make time for rest in our lives, it enables us to reconnect with those we love. Your to-do list can wait, but relationships suffer if they are neglected. A Sabbath Simplicity life includes taking one day out of your week to put aside your tasks and focus on spiritual and relational growth.

Take a Sabbath day. Spend time with people you care about and reconnect with your faith, friends, and family.

 

Revise

So often, we get stuck in a rut. Write down all your commitments. Then figure out which ones you need to drop.

What sort of rhythm of life would be healthy for you? Create some space in your life—some unscheduled time. Take a Sabbath day, even if your family does not. Make your home, and your demeanor, calm and inviting, even if you can only do that one day a week. Give yourself one night a week where you get a full night’s sleep. You’ll be surprised how resting one day a week will affect the rest of your week—you’ll not only be more peaceful, you’re likely to be more productive.

Revise your life to make room for rest.

Take Time to Play

What gives you joy? We are often so task-focused that we lose our joy. Play is restful, and rest is playful. It rejuvenates us. Often, play engages us with others. Play can be creative—a hobby you enjoy. It can be silly—laughter has been clinically proven to help heal our bodies. Our family will often play board games—build this habit when your children are young.

Rather than signing your child up for another sport that you have to pay for and drive them to, simply do something each week together as a family—go for a bike ride or a walk. Visit a museum or a petting zoo. Take a hike through a nature preserve or botanic garden.

Be active together, instead of just enrolling in separate activities that scatter your lives.

Make Your Spiritual Life a Priority

Take time each day to pray or meditate, to read Scripture, poetry, or an inspiring book—even if it is only for a few minutes. Ask God for wisdom and strength, and trust that you will receive it.

Prayer is not just talking to God, but also listening. As you go through your day, be attentive to the voice of God. Slow down enough to notice the sacred in ordinary moments. Notice opportunities to act in a loving way, and then, do it!

Here is a sure way to a deeper spiritual life: notice someone who is in need, and show that person kindness. Whether you bring a meal to an ailing neighbor, listen to a troubled friend, or smile at a stranger, showing love is a form of prayer.

Don’t be so hurried that you miss an opportunity to grow in love.

Living in Sabbath Simplicity

We’re surrounded with so many appealing choices, and we mistakenly assume we should do as much as possible. But saying yes to everything will destroy us.

Living in Sabbath Simplicity means saying no to doing too much so that you can say yes to the things that matter most. Choose to do those things that nurture your soul, that deepen your connection with family, friends and faith. Take time to be playful, and have the courage to say no to doing too much. Engage fully in your work, in your relationships, but then, take time to rest.

Live a sanely paced, God-focused life. That is the heart of Sabbath Simplicity.

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