I recently saw a meme on Facebook that said something to the effect of, “Rest is an expression of freedom.” It’s actually spot on when you think about it. Who gets to rest? If you’re a slave, there is no rest for you. No day yields a profit for you; at no time are you working on improving your own life, just the life of the one who owns you. So if you are truly free then you can choose when and how you’re going to rest. Not so for a slave.
In relationships, and in particular marriage, I find it much easier to hide from the hard bits of life. Life is hard. Every day. Ceaseless in its wearing down of my resolve. I put my 8 hours in at work every day, aren’t I entitled to shy away from my problems and not deal with them? I don’t want to grow relationships after spending the whole day thinking about how to fix problems at work. I want to turn off my mind and not address the hard things of life.
Sam and I recently decided that we need to engage with the sabbath, sábado en español. Consequently, in many languages the word that translates to sabbath is the exact same word used for Saturday. We’ve tried to enjoy the sabbath on Sunday before but never found that it worked right for us, so we thought we would try Saturday. We’re also treating the sabbath the same way it was treated in the Bible, starting the night before and ending at sundown on Saturday.
I say all that to say that we just finished the beginning of the sabbath tonight. We tried to make sure it meant something. For instance, Thanksgiving typically is about pie and football more than it is about giving thanks. I didn’t sit around and watch football tonight. We actually sat and ate together without cellphones, laptops, notebooks, or any other distraction. I felt like I was on a date with my wife for the first time in months. It forced us to see each other, to talk directly to each other. Not about the things of the week, like I need to do laundry so can you make sure you hang your clothes to dry and the washing machine is empty for me.
Before we ate dinner though we decided to break bread and drink “wine.” The wine was actually chicha morada, which is a purple drink made by steeping purple corn in water and typically sweetened with pineapple juice. We put it in fancy glasses and lit candles, and set the table. We started by opening the Bible and reading some verses about communion. We then read each other verses and prayers that we had chosen specifically for each other.
I cried. I cried because life is so hard and I live a life that displaces the hardness so I don’t have to deal with it. But tonight I faced it and I let myself feel, which I rarely ever do. I cried because I’m reminded that I’m a sinner, that I don’t deserve the life I have, but yet I’m giving new chances every day to do amazing things. I thanked my God for his forgiveness, for his amazing provision, for Sam who has stood beside me for nearly four years now. Am I so amazing that Sam has stuck by my side for four years? On the contrary, she is so amazing to have stuck by me for these years. Four years may not sound like a lot but we have been through hell, and I’m not sure we’re out of it yet. If you don’t know pain in your marriage yet then I pray you’re ready when it comes. Because it will, but there is joy too.
The sabbath was a time for Sam and I to pray together, but not just together. We prayed for each other, and over each other. We read God’s word and we chose verses for each other. We stopped pretending and faced each other. We opened our hearts to each other and confessed that we know what we’re doing wrong individually. Can you imagine what that means to a spouse when you admit that you’re trying but sometimes you just don’t know how to try harder. We were vulnerable with each other, and we delicately worked together through this life that is so hard some days.
This one day of the week we reconnected with our God, and each other. I urge you to take this one day a week to set aside the things of this world. They’ll be there after this day of rest is over, but you may never again have this chance to stop what you’re doing, look up, and say, “God, I can’t do this all on my own. I need help. I’m broken. I’m hurt. I need your healing. I need rest.” We don’t have enough time on this earth to fake, to hide from the problems, to not face each other with sincerity and honesty. Be raw, be real. I don’t want to live my life with my head stuck in the sand. This day of rest reminded me of who I want to be, and reenergized my drive to strive to be that. I urge you my friends, the sabbath can be more than just another day of the week. It is a divine appointment with our creator.