Author Keri Wyatt Kent speaks my language. Her books deal with the deep longings of our souls — intermixed with an honest view of the hectic reality we sometimes find ourselves in. She encourages us to make choices that draw us into a right rhythm with God and with others. I’m so grateful she popped in to speak with us today about a topic that is really, really important and also really, really tough to figure out sometimes: Sabbath. Keep on reading!
Keri, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m the working mom of two teens, and for the past year or two, God has given me the opportunity to serve as our family’s primary breadwinner—although God of course is our primary provider. Last year, I had four different book projects published. Despite these pressures and workload, I took every Sunday off to rest.
The title of your book, Rest, simply draws me in. What an inviting — and needed — word in our lives! What motivated you to write it?
I had written about Sabbath (and other spiritual practices) in a previous book, Breathe. Many people seemed interested in the practice of Sabbath, many of them had an interest that centered on debate—thinking that it was impossible. So it was a subject that needed a more extensive explanation.
I know that for you the idea of Sabbath-keeping has been a journey. So how have your views and practices changed over the years?
Wow – I don’t think you have enough time to listen to all that. How Sabbath gets lived out with preschoolers looks quite different than it would with teenagers. If you’re not a parent, it looks different than if you have a family. But I’ve always seen Sabbath as a freedom., a day to refrain from your everyday tasks to focus on loving God and loving people.
The subtitle of your book Rest is “Living in Sabbath Simplicity.” Both “Sabbath” and “simplicity” are practices that are radically countercultural — and hard to live out in our hectic world! So how does the discipline of simplicity fit into the idea of rest?
The book I mentioned earlier, Breathe, talked about three practices: slowing, simplicity and Sabbath. But they’re tied together. You cannot just run 100 miles an hour and then collapse at the end of the week and call it Sabbath. Sabbath keeping is a rhythm of life that impacts your entire week. Sabbath is not just a day of rest, it’s a reordering. Also, simplicity is not just decluttering or organizing—which is how our culture tends to define it. It’s an inner reality, in which we are “seeking first the kingdom of God.” Simplicity is putting God first. Sabbath keeping flows out of that. It’s giving God the firstfruits of your time.
Though rest sounds so appealing (and needed), women often feel “selfish” when they choose to rest. After all, there are a million needs and demands (and probably people too) clamoring for their attention. If you were to sit down with one of my readers who is physically and spiritually harried but feels selfish about taking a rest, what counsel or encouragement would you offer her?
In my book Oxygen, I reminded my readers of what they hear in the safety briefing on an airplane. If the oxygen mask drops in front of you, put your own mask on first, then help the people around you. Sabbath is part of self-care.
The other thing is, often we’re addicted to being busy because it makes us feel important. So we say it would be “selfish” but really, underneath that noble excuse is the huge fear of letting go of being needed, letting go of earning other people’s approval. When we actually rest, that’s the only time in our life when we can truly experience God’s unconditional love. Now, we can SAY we believe in unconditional love, but to actually EXPERIENCE it, we have to stop. Stop achieving and accomplishing, and let God love us even though we are doing NOTHING.
Also, however, I always tell people to start where they are, and build from there. So if you decide you want to start practicing Sabbath, start by simply choosing one thing to refrain from and one thing to engage in. I write a lot about this in my book. So, if a busy mom feels daunted by the idea of a whole day of rest, she can begin by say, choosing to refrain from doing laundry, and choosing to engage in a nap. That’s enough for one week. The next week, add another thing to not do, and another thing to do. And pray attentively to decide which things!!!
What are some “first-step” ideas you could share for someone who desires to move closer into embracing the Sabbath or implementing intentional rest into her life?
Ooh, I just answered that above. But the other thing is—look at the rest of your week. If you’ve signed your kids or yourself up for way too many activities or obligations, you won’t be able to rest on Sunday. So the first step is to look at your overall pace and in most cases, start cutting back on busyness. Start saying no to things that you don’t need to be doing.
The other first step if you have kids is to make sure that household tasks are shared between all household members (kids, husband) and that you’re not doing everything. A “chore chart” is a spiritual growth tool! Again, browse my blog for posts that offer more on these topics!
Readers, what do you think about Keri’s ideas here? How do you feel challenged or inspired? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.