Mostly this is completely irritating.
Like when they go to blows over who gets the last banana or why one brother should share his new Legos but the asserting brother certainly doesn’t have to for reasons x, y, and z.
Sometimes this sibling banter moves past a mother’s annoyance to fascination and entertainment. Like when my boys debate about whether zombies are stronger than ninjas or how animals will behave in heaven. I get a peek into their amazing minds and wild imaginations.
Then there is the sweet occasion when their arguing becomes a window of insight. A glimpse at deeper truths being soaked up.
A couple months ago I overheard one such conversation between my two oldest boys that went something like this…
Noah (6): Grownups don’t take naps.
Elias: (5): Yeah, they do!
Noah: No, they don’t. Only kids do.
Elias: But, some grownups take naps.
Noah: Nu-uh! Taking naps is just for little kids.
Elias: Well, Mommy takes a nap on Sundays and she’s a grownup!
To most this probably doesn’t sound like an extraordinary interaction. But to me, it was astounding. Because I learned that my kids are watching. Closely.
Elias was right. I do usually take a nap on Sundays. His statement indicates he made two observations: 1) This was a predictable pattern in my life, and 2) Sunday was different than the other days of the week.
There was a time not too long ago when this is not what Elias would have noticed.
I was given the crazy blessing of having three sons in just three and a half years. While I’m still very much in the thick of motherhood (my boys are now 7, 5, and 3), those earliest years with lots of littles were uniquely special and utterly exhausting.
The days stretched long, held together by a mother’s glue of spit up, breast milk, and crushed Cheerios. It was a season when getting the preschooler, toddler, and baby to nap at the same time felt like a divine gift FROM THE LORD. Should such grace strike our small, blue, two-bedroom house like a lightening bolt from heaven around one in the afternoon, it was all I could do to offer up a Halleluiah! Thank you, Jesus! followed by a quick and desperate plea of And please don’t let them wake up soon! Then I heaved myself on the couch in a weary heap and fell asleep.
This was my afternoon pattern for a long time. It’s how I survived.
But once I emerged from the fog of middle-of-the-night nursings and toddler-Houdini crib-climbing, and began to get a reasonable amount of overnight rest, the boys’ naptime shifted to my time.
My time to be productive!
Instead of waking up to find me drooling on the couch, my boys emerged from their mid-day slumber to find me hard at work. Washing dishes or fixing dinner. Often sitting at my computer, feverishly trying to finish a batch of payments for my part-time job as a medical biller. Perhaps tapping out a blog post or composing emails regarding the moms ministry at church.
Whatever the activity, my boys knew that while they rested, Mommy worked.
Until something shifted. Almost two years ago God called me to surrender a piece of my heart I didn’t even know I was holding back. Things changed when I started to Sabbath.
It actually began when I wrote a post about how I didn’t think keeping the Sabbath was possible for a busy mom in the throes of raising spirited boys. Through connections made from that post, I discovered a group of people who had made an “all in” commitment to Sabbath keeping, led by a wonderful writer named Shelly Miller—she called it the Sabbath Society.
I quickly recognized that I had actually met Shelly at a conference the year prior. So I happily subscribed to her weekly Sabbath newsletter, thinking it would at least be interesting to learn about this archaic faith practice I didn’t have time for, and fun to reconnect with the sweet woman who had prayed for me in a South Carolina hotel.
Oh, were my expectations small.
Instead of an obligatory list of seventh day dos and don’ts, I discovered an invitation—from God’s heart to mine steeped in love and grace—an invitation to rest.
I have struggled with finding identity and security in my ability to produce and perform. Choosing to Sabbath was the next step on my journey to relinquish these self-reliant tendencies for greater reliance on the Lord: His provision in place of my perfectionism.
For me, learning to Sabbath has meant learning to take productivity off the exquisite pedestal I’d placed it on in favor of practicing God’s presence. Surprisingly, I discovered that this exchange doesn’t always feel super spiritual. Sometimes it looks plain and practical. Like taking a nap.
Now when my sons wake from their afternoon snooze on Sundays, they don’t find my hands deep in sudsy dishwater or typing fervently at my computer. They find my hands—and my heart—at rest.
I trust that God is using my example to shape their young minds. I trust that in my rhythm of rest they are learning about God’s good gifts.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sabbath keeping and accepting the invitation to rest, sign up for the Sabbath Society newsletter! Shelly also has a new book coming out that I cannot wait to read! You can preorder Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World now.
Happily linking up with the lovely #TellHisStory and #CoffeeForYourHeart communities.