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Sabbath, Rest, and Guilt – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
May 132008

I was sitting in the swinging chair enjoying the spring Phoenix day. It wasn’t too hot, and the breeze was refreshing. And I was feeling guilty. Why? Because I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t working. I wasn’t being productive. I was on vacation and feeling guilty for being on vacation. How American is that? It took me a whole day, but I finally did it: I stopped feeling guilty about taking a break and resting. I found out what true rest, true letting go feels like. Or may be I remembered how to let go and rest.

Genesis tells us that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath and not working one day a week is one of The Ten Commandments. It is also the commandment that’s most often broken by Chrsitians and non-Christians alike. We can wax eloquently all we want to about not taking God’s name in vain or not committing murder, but bring up keeping the Sabbath, and the room gets very, very quiet. Why do some branches of American Christianity insist that God created the earth in six literal days, but then fall silent when it comes to taking what God did on the seventh day literally?

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Genesis 2:2-3).

Why is it so hard for us to stop and rest?

On of the reasons is that we have believed the lie that we are what we do. We believe the myth that what we do is who we are. So we work. We perform. We jump through hoops. One of the reason for keeping the Sabbath is to remind us who we really are: children of God. The Sabbath also reminds us that everything we have comes from God. God provides for all our needs. The Sabbath is for remembering: remembering who we are and remembering who God is. God rested on the seventh day, and God commanded us to do the same. If it is okay for God to rest, then it is okay for us to rest as well.

In fact, it is imperative to rest. We need a day where we let go of the worry and stress and our work, and we trust God to take care of us.

The last three Sundays I have rested. In fact, I’ve even been taking naps. I rested, and I did not feel one iota of guit.

What about you? Do you take time off? How do you rest?

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