Lazy sabbath: A journey through parenthood and rest

"To fully live into sabbath, maybe we need to admit to being lazy in the best kind of way," writes Katrina Pekich-Bundy.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“But do I have to get out of my pajamas?” This is the question I hear when I ask my youngest to leave the house on the weekend. Or 30 minutes after coming home from school. Or during any school break. If the answer is “Yes, you have to change,” then my kid refuses and wants to stay home.

If your reaction to this is, “Your kid is a whole vibe!” then you’re in the majority. Whenever I tell someone about the trials of trying to get my kid out the door, they say, “I totally get that kid!” Yes. Same. But doesn’t anyone want to hear about how hard it is to get my kid out the door?!

Apparently not. And rightfully so. While I grumble about the difficulties of raising a headstrong kid, I have noticed that I really admire my child for healthily stating their needs. They have resisted our culture’s call towards speed and productivity in favor of sabbath. This is something I wish for myself as well.

Y’all, I know about sabbath. I’ve read Tricia Hersey’s book, Rest is Resistance, and created a semester of rest space for students who are always pressured to produce more. I wrote a paper on Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance. I’ve preached on Lauren Winner’s Mudhouse Sabbath. I have celebrated rest! Why does it take my kid in their pajamas to slow me down? Probably because I do too much. Probably because I tell myself “I’ll rest when…” and list my never-ending to-do list. Knowing and doing are two different things.

Knowing and doing are two different things.

I have the privilege of serving as a full-time pastor and part-time college chaplain. Seasons and semesters ebb and flow. One week I’m at one place more than another, but I always tell myself it evens out. Last summer, I convinced myself that if I worked ahead, I could float through the fall semester at a relaxed pace. Do you see where this is going? I started the semester exhausted, and many unexpected things happened anyway. One of those things was getting COVID and then feeling like I’d lost an entire month and had to sprint to catch up again.

We all know that if we don’t slow down and rest, often our bodies will make us. I still fail at Sabbath pretty spectacularly, but my community continues to urge me to rest. A dear friend of mine reminds me often of the term JOMO. Instead of the “fear of missing out” (FOMO), it’s the “joy of missing out”! When I decline an event and choose to go to the park with my kids or find time to meditate and write, I miss things, but I find joy too.

I know God doesn’t want us to do everything. I know God even rested. So why is it so hard to slow down? Our culture never slows down, and never will. For some, taking a Saturday to hang out on the couch is a privilege they can’t afford because they work multiple jobs. And I know there are seasons I cannot spend an entire day lounging. Those are the weeks I try to fit in a deep breath during a transition, a long snuggle at bedtime, and a prayer while I ride my bike. And knowing that I have the privilege to say, “Today I’m resting,” makes me hopeful that maybe I can remind others of the importance of sabbath, just as I am reminded. Maybe today I only ride my bike and sabbath from fossil fuels. Perhaps I sabbath from a specific activity that requires others to work.

My child, whether realizing it or not, clears my calendar. Last night, we sabbathed in their room, reading and talking, and they asked, “What does lazy mean?” I fumbled my definition by saying something about lying down and doing nothing to which my child exclaimed, “I love lazy!” I grabbed my phone and asked Merriam-Webster, which defined it as “unwilling to work.” That made me like the idea of being lazy even more.

“I love lazy!”

To fully live into sabbath, maybe we need to admit to being lazy in the best kind of way — unwilling to work for a while; unwilling to be trampled on by capitalism and the pressures of society. I hope my child never loses that sabbath spirit.

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