Nearly 8 years ago Sarah and I were on our honeymoon in the incredible Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands. As we walked on the idyllic white sand, swam in the crystal-clear blue water surrounded by a dozen different types of tropical fish, Sarah said to me with joy “this is what heaven is going to be like!” (I think she’s probably right. Google Aitutaki if you don’t believe me).
We dream of going back to Aitutaki, but with 3 kids under 4, it's not realistic anytime soon. It can feel like a peaceful hour is hard to find, let alone a tropical island holiday!
So with all that life has for me at the moment, what does a realistic 'ideal day off' look like? For now, I think there’s 5 pieces for me that make a good day off.
As a pastor, I spend a lot of my time behind a desk or in a coffee shop. Taxing in some ways, but not exactly the most physically strenuous profession out there. So if I’m not exercising I feel lethargic, and I’m not doing re-creation well. When I do exercise, there is something rejuvenating about it, probably because it’s so different from my “work.” A run before the kids get up is the most realistic form of exercise for me right now, but there’s still the temptation to hit snooze, especially on a Saturday morning when the bed is appealing. So if I can exercise with other people or play some social sport - even better.
2. Time in creation
It is such a blessing for me living in Brisbane with 283 days of sunshine a year. Despite being mid-August, we’ve been regularly getting days in the mid 20s (sorry Victorians!). Getting outside does something for my body and soul. It diverts me away from myself, away from mankind and points me to our creator and His handiwork. A place we regularly go to is called Shorncilffe. It’s by the water, with a flat path that goes for about 5 kilometres. Kids can bring their scooters, there’s a big playground and of course a coffee cart. There’s even Brisbane’s attempt at a beach. It’s a beautiful spot and I also try to make time to go there solo when I can to fill up my tank.
3. Time in Community
I’m an extrovert. I discovered this profoundly years ago when I went away on a holiday by myself to the beach. I loved the first hour doing nothing, then I got so bored. It became more stressful than restful as I wanted to share my experiences with others. A good day off will mean time with others. As much as I love my family, spending some of the time with non-Wziontek’s (that’s my last name) is what refuels me. A win is when the kids can play with other kids - going to the playground, or someone's house, kids are playing together and we can have some “adult conversation".
4. Being on top of life admin.
To have a good day off, I don’t want to be filling the day with chores, paying bills, tax returns etc. But avoiding them all will likely mean that I’ll feel guilty about resting on my day off. Ideally, things are chipped away at throughout the week, month and year, so that when it comes to the day off I’m not burdened by them. However, with a young family, there’s always more work to do. Having said that though, there are some jobs like mowing the lawn that do spark joy (often while listening to music or a podcast). It’s good to be able to tick off tangible things, rather than living in a state of children-induced chaos. As Sarah reminds me, God is a good of order, and living in order leads to flourishing.
5. Time with the Lord
Saving the best until last. This is more than a quiet time at the start and end of the day. A good day off is when I’m living with him, conscious of his presence throughout the day. Arrow prayers of thanksgiving, time listening to worship music, having theological conversation with my 4 year old, evangelism with my neighbours, and if we can achieve it, a time of prayer and the Word with Sarah.
On top of all this, I’m thankful that while my day off is important, I don’t have to put too much pressure on my day off, or on my holiday for it to satisfy me. As Jesus says in Matthew 11:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
In Jesus, I have rest for my soul! The full experience of this rest is still to come (Hebrews 4:1). Eternal rest with our Lord and his people in a place better than Aitutaki.
Mike is the Community Pastor at City on a Hill Brisbane. He is married to Sarah and they have two young daughters, Elle and Lily. He loves engaging with people from all walks of life, and is passionate about the life-changing message of Jesus. He also enjoys playing or watching all types of sport and trying a new cafe or craft beer.