Making room for rest

Practicing+the+Sabbath

Ella Jennings, The Horizon

Practicing the Sabbath

Hannah Marks, Staff Writer

What adjectives come to mind when you consider a day in the life of a Westmont student? Relaxed? Restful? Leisurely? There may be a lucky few like this, but many would have quite different descriptors at the ready: Overwhelmed. Stressed. Tired. Students learn to cope in different ways — it’s necessary for survival — but one strategy that often comes up in evangelical circles is the practice of Sabbath. 

The origins of Sabbath trace all the way back to the ‘ account of Creation in the book of Genesis, where it states, “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done,” (Genesis 2:3). Just as God rested, He commanded His people to rest: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Deuteronomy 5:13). 

A day without work sounds like a wonderful concept, but many Westmont students, let alone Christians at large, find it difficult to achieve. One student who has committed to making Sabbath part of her weekly routine is third-year Maddy Booker, who said, “Although it can be difficult, setting aside my Sundays to rest and spend time away from homework, social media, etc. has been incredibly life-giving for me.” 

She went on to say that her Saturday homework time is far more motivated when she knows she has a Sunday of rest and relaxation ahead of her. 

Booker emphasized that she focuses on community during these Sabbath days, saying, “The idea of ‘lingering’ has been especially pertinent to me since beginning this practice — lingering after church to talk to people, signing up for service opportunities, going on spontaneous lunch dates, and plugging into the communities I am blessed to be a part of.” She has found that even when her busy schedule makes it difficult to do Sabbath, she still considers it a necessary practice. Booker added, “Resting is not something to feel guilty for doing. Rather, it is a gift that comes from [God].” 

Those who don’t practice Sabbath in this way still find time to rest in small moments through the week. Five others interviewed agreed that they found it difficult to set aside an entire day for this practice, but discovered that they could explore Sabbath in different ways. Second-year Jenna Wheeler said, “I like to take naps in the middle of the day … maybe those little breaks are Sabbaths.” 

Second-year Joy Sturges remarked on this difficulty in her own life, saying, “Recently, my Sabbath has turned into squeezing in a couple hours of rest in the midst of the craziness of life.” 

Sturges feels God can provide this rest even in the busiest of times when Sabbath seems impossible and she hopes to lengthen it when she finds the time: “I think that taking a Sabbath is honestly such a beautiful gift …  from God, though it is sometimes challenging to accomplish.”

First-year David Shiang finds that his Sabbath is more about quality time with God than anything else, explaining, “I practice Sabbath by using my Saturdays as a time to focus a lot on hearing God’s voice through the Word, going on nature walks, or spending time in fellowship.” He also mentioned the difficulty of consistency, saying, “I’m grateful to have implemented a more disciplined attempt at the Sabbath into my life.” 

When academics and extracurricular activities vie for students’ attention, it can be extremely difficult to set those things aside for even a few moments of true rest. Thankfully, difficulty does not mean impossibility, as students find ways to incorporate the practice of Sabbath into their hectic schedules. In doing so, they agree that making room for rest is incredibly fruitful. 

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