My Ideal Day of Rest
30 August 2023
At 16, when I got my first job at Kmart, there was one condition. I wasn’t allowed to pick up shifts on Sunday. This was a hard rule in my family. Sundays were for church, family, and rest. They are not for work, school or shopping.
Looking back, I’m thankful to my parents for helping me set up this pattern in life. I carried it through uni and almost every job I’ve worked at. You can’t tempt me with your Sunday rates Jill, Sundays I go to church and I rest. But, after uni, I started working in a church. I couldn’t quite say the same to my pastor. So, I had to grapple a little bit with what an ideal sabbath actually looked like. What was I trying to achieve in my ‘day of rest’?
Since then, I’ve landed on two key concepts that drive how I, personally, spend my day of rest:
The first big question for me has been ‘how do I disconnect from my normal
world so I can gain a fresh perspective?’ And it looks like so many things, often depending on what I’m doing in my life that week.
Abraham Heschel said that “one who works with their mind will Sabbath with their hands, and one who works with their hands will Sabbath with their mind.” And this is something I’ve personally found helpful in my times of rest.
When I worked at Kmart, I spent my time disengaging from physical labour by reading books, watching movies, and listening to an awful lot of podcasts. Now that I spend most of my life at a desk, I spend my time disconnecting from my mind and trying to work with my hands. So, on a good rest day you’ll find me with my plants, crocheting, baking bread, and out in nature.
For most of my life I have been a raging extrovert. I really love to talk. I really love my friends and I really find people so energising. For me, that has meant I need to cut people out of my Sabbath, because it helps me to find perspective. I have the luxury of doing this in my current stage of life and so I do, mostly because it helps me with the next part: Engagement.
The second, perhaps bigger question for me is ‘how do I engage with God in a way that’s restful?’ This also has changed as my lifestyle has changed. I used to try and spend my sabbath deeply studying the bible. Now I find myself doing that during the week. So, on my Sabbath, I try to do something a bit different. I’ll often read a whole book of the bible and try not to overthink it, but just let my mind wander and enjoy the narrative.
Or I’ll pick a few verses and just sit in silence for a half hour meditating on them. I also try to engage with God’s creation in a way I don’t normally. This might mean a bush walk, or a trip to the beach. Sometimes, it even involves babysitting. I don’t think for a second that parenting is a ‘restful’ pursuit… but there are two little girls in my church that I just adore hanging out with, and there aren’t really many kids in my life anywhere else. So, while it’s not always restful in the physical sense, I do find it’s a different, but life-giving way for me to engage with God’s creation. They bring me so much joy and it genuinely helps me to step out of my ordinary space, and appreciate an adorably hilarious part of God’s creation that I otherwise don’t come in contact with.
An Ideal Day
I feel a bit funny writing like this. I just don’t have an ideal day in my head, let alone on paper. And that’s mostly because… there's nothing influencing my day off except me. Which I’m aware is a unique privilege. What’s more, normally I take Wednesday off, which means there are not many people from my church or family available. It usually means there's no expectations of me, or any accountability. So, every rest day looks substantially different. But it means I can have an honest moment of reflection with myself and God about what I need that week.
For what it’s worth, it almost always means waking up in the morning and spending some extended time in silence, off my phone and computer. And then spending some time with God in prayer and in the bible. But other than that, all I’m trying to get from my rest day is perspective on my work and connection
with God. Maybe I’m babysitting, maybe I’m in the bush without my phone, maybe I’m baking bagels for my friends, or maybe I’m curled up watching a movie. I couldn’t tell you. Really, “it’s the vibe of the thing”.
But to put it simply, if you asked me about my ideal rest day, I’d say: any day that I can disconnect from my work and reconnect with God in a unique way.
Bianca Nicholls is an MTS Apprentice and the Many Rooms Coordinator. She is passionate about caring for the modern orphans and widows of our society and also loves seeing people connected into church community in a meaningful way. Bianca studied law and international relations at uni and through that God gave her a heart for vulnerable and disadvantaged people groups, both in Australia and overseas. Bianca, like her whole family, was born and raised in Geelong and is yet to be convinced that there is a better city anywhere else in the world.