A Time to Work and a Time to Rest

With summer settling in, you may be looking forward to an annual week off–unless you’re prone to certain forms of depression that wait to pounce the second they catch your conscious mind relaxing. I’ve been there: no matter how hectic the work week was and how ready I felt to be done with it, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were my most miserable times emotionally. I have survived a couple of major depression periods where my feelings stayed on a tolerable level as long as I kept busy with daily tasks, but come a few days off–and even on beautiful days, even in the middle of my favorite recreation, I wore a forced smile while internally wanting to die and seeing only hopelessness in the world.

Let others talk about worse cases of depression that drove them to hiding under the covers 24/7. Let the larger world complain about “Monday morning blues.” I believe that “Saturday morning blues”–and Sunday morning blues for those who are too tired to get depressed earlier in the weekend–are more common than acknowledged. When we’re working, we may be stressed, but at least we’re occupied, and to some level in control. When we take time off, we acknowledge that the world will keep running for a while without us. At the same time, we give the world just a little more room to get our attention–and often we’re unprepared to be reminded of the parts of it that are completely beyond our control.

No wonder we rarely turn off our business e-mail and phone lines for 24 consecutive hours, even on major holidays. No wonder few Americans take a full week “off,” let alone one completely disconnected, anymore. No wonder so many people can’t go one weekend without getting “just a little work” in–and most of the others work at their play by choosing active sports and challenging leisure over sitting and absorbing creation. Deep down, we want someone to break in and assure us that at least one small part of the world needs our help to keep running. If they don’t, we wonder if we’re actually worthless–or if perhaps the world is doomed anyway.

We think of the ancient Sabbath commandment as God’s way of ensuring we pay attention to Him every now and then. It is that, but it’s more. It’s a reminder that we aren’t responsible for keeping the world in order–and that Someone greater than us is doing just that. It’s an urging to let go of the depressing idea that our only value lies in what we accomplish–and to enjoy our time off secure in the assurance that God loves us for ourselves. It’s–as Dan Allender, author of Sabbath: The Ancient Practices, put it–an invitation to actively forget everything that’s still wrong with the world, and let the Lord indulge us in a taste of the unmitigated everlasting joy that will come with His Kingdom.

What cause have we for preferring to fend off depression with pride-fueled busywork?

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1 Comment

  1. Jo Swank

     /  June 4, 2016

    : ) Thank you, Kathy.


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