Monday, August 23, 2010

Saturdays as Sabbath

I used to hate Saturdays. The day before Sunday, a pastor’s busiest and often most stressful day, it quickly became for me the day of dread, the day of hard mental and spiritual labor preparing for what was to come. Those difficult days have consisted of every emotional outburst from tears to anger. There have even been a few panic attacks. I anguished that I was not ready or worthy to preach or lead worship on Sunday mornings and I would weep and stress or just feel awful for the entire day. Throughout my eleven years of parish ministry I discovered Saturdays have exhausted me.

I finally decided I was either going to have to change how I spent my Saturdays or I was going to die from a heart attack with all the emotional upheaval. So, I prayed and I made changes. I became intentional with what I would do during that day before Sunday. I began to make sure that there were certain events built into every Saturday, events that raised my spirits, encouraged me, rested me, energized me. Now, as a parish minister still doing the same work on Sundays I have done for years, Saturdays have become my one day of the week that has been set aside as the designated “day of goodness.”

There is to be yoga or stretching of my body, breathing exercises, and some part of an hour spent outside. Some days I take a long walk. Other Saturdays I just sit in the back yard. Some days I ride my bike. I only allow myself to take in good things, both in my body and in my mind. This generally means no television, no trashy magazines or negative websites, and no junk food. I drink water and juice (a switch from my Monday through Friday usual diet sodas); I eat fruit and fresh vegetables; I talk to friends who have a positive effect on me and try to stay away from those who bring me down. I read passages that inspire me. I make sure the pace of the day is slow and easy. I allow for enough time to practice my sermon and go over the other events of worship so I don’t feel anxious or unprepared. I listen to or create my own music. I dance. I make sure that my Saturdays are restful and healthy and include taking notice of beauty.

After a year of my designated “Good Saturdays”, I am happy to report that this once-dreaded day has now become my favorite day of the week. I look forward to what has become a day of Sabbath instead a day of stress. I enjoy my easy Saturdays so much, the content, the activities, the beauty, that my Sundays are much lighter and more worshipful. I have even decided that I love my Saturdays so much that I choose to spend all my days in goodness. And with that decision, I have become intentional about filling all my days with good things, healthy things, beautiful things. And the result is that I feel better. I feel happier and more at peace and more balanced. And I now feel this way all week long. My cursed day has become my blessed day, my teaching day, and has led me to change everything about how I live my life.

“You must hate your job,” a person recently said when they found out I was a minister, “because you have to work every weekend.” I smiled, remembering how I used to think that way, how those two days were such a burden. “It’s not so bad,” I reply. “In fact, it’s not bad at all. My weekend work is actually the best work I do.”

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