Below is a story of one person’s journey to observing the Sabbath. We hope this encourages others to consider how the Lord may be calling them to rest with the Lord on the Sabbath, as the Lord undoubtedly calls each of us in similar but unique ways that may change over time.
I began practicing the Sabbath at Notre Dame University. My days were structured around study. The Lord was a focus of my day, but there was nothing special about Sundays. The days and weeks blended into each other. One of my friends, now a postulant with the Sisters of Life, upheld the Sabbath. It was a day of rest for her: she did no schoolwork. It was radical at Notre Dame to not work on Sundays—but she radiated joy and peace.
Slowly, many of my friends began observing the Sabbath. I would do things with them on Sunday that weren’t Mass or studying, but I found myself feeling stressed. I wouldn’t be resting; my mind would be in what I needed to do.
I began praying with Jesus’s words that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a gift the Lord was offering me, and I was saying, “No, thank you.” I couldn’t reconcile that.
With my friends’ encouragement, I accepted that gift and began observing the Sabbath—and it transformed everything! I made sacrifices to not work on Sundays. I had to be more focused during my work and look at it more as an offering to the Lord. I had to say no to some things.
I better prioritized people the Lord had placed in my life: friends, family, and people not at Notre Dame who I wanted to stay connected with. I wanted to maintain those relationships and help them feel loved.
This is the secret to my Sabbath: I don’t over-plan my days. The rest of my week is packed, and the Lord has offered me an unplanned day. It allows Him to surprise me with different things. I now say yes to things that come up with friends and family. If my friends want to go to brunch, I go. If I sit down to do a puzzle and one of my friends starts working on it with me, I sit with them for as long as they are there, laughing, talking, and having fun together. Spending time with people is so important, and the Lord is asking me to just be with people. I also try to call or write at least one person I’m not with physically—whether it’s my grandma or an out-of-state friend. I always end my Sabbath with a holy hour, just sitting with the Lord.
Receiving the Sabbath has sweetened my relationship with Christ. On the Sabbath, the Lord says in a special way, “Come away with Me and rest.” I’m finally just receiving that, and my relationships with people have improved, and I have more peace and joy throughout the week.
This article originally appeared in the Renewal Ministries’ April 2023 newsletter and is abridged from the January 2023 id Disciples’ Night.