On Fridays, we Sabbath.
No matter what else is going on in our lives, every Friday, we take a break from the other activities of our week and take time to rest and focus inward on God and our family. For us, that looks like getting out to hike, bike, visit parks, see movies, try new foods or fix our favorites. Or sometimes we stay in and spend more intentional time at home playing games, building forts, and so much more. Whatever it is that we end up doing, we try really hard to be present with each other and our four (soon to be five!) children.
It hasn’t always been this way.
Early on in our marriage, there was a pivotal moment that changed everything.
At the time, we had just had our first baby, bought our first home, and my husband, Paul, made a major career change from social work to real estate. Making his real estate business successful required that we agree to put as much time into it as possible, which also meant that he went to work pretty much every time the phone rang.
Soon after making that switch, Paul also began working part-time at PCC as a worship coordinator. He loved the job and it brought in some extra income for our family, but it meant even more time away from home. Meanwhile, I stayed home with our almost one-year-old son, Caleb.
One evening, after a long day working two jobs, Paul scooped up Caleb and headed to the rocking chair to read him a book while I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. As they rocked back and forth, Paul looked down at Caleb’s hands and noticed his tiny, perfectly clipped fingernails. It occurred to him that he had never once cut Caleb’s nails, which led him to wonder what other parts of Caleb’s life he was missing out on.
It was then that we knew we had to make a change.
Later that night after the baby was in bed, we sat down to talk about how busy our life had become. We took time to envision the type of family life we wanted, the things we wanted to teach our kids, and what was most important to us. In order to make our dreams a reality, we knew we would have to set some boundaries with work, other people, technology, and the things that were distracting us from our family’s potential.
We knew that we wanted to prioritize family time, but with two careers that had demanding weekend hours, making that happen took some trial and error. For a long time, we just tried to find a chunk of a day somewhere in the week to set aside the distractions and do something fun together. But honestly, it continued to be a struggle.
As time went by, we had more kids, work demands didn’t lighten, and I took on additional responsibilities like homeschooling and leading a co-op. Somewhere between child two and three, we finally decided to take Sabbath seriously. That was when we decided that Friday would always be our Sabbath.
For the whole day on Friday, we would honor God by focusing on our family and being undistracted by our normal work activities.
Over the years, if something came up that really was a rare, immovable activity on a Friday, we would try to find another place in the week to prioritize Sabbath and what has now become known in our house as “Family Fun Day.” No matter what comes up, we make time to be together, to focus on God and each other, and have fun.
Prioritizing this one change in our schedule has been a breath of fresh air for all of us, and all the trouble it took to get to this place was well worth it.
Now, several years into our Friday Sabbath, we have just as many, if not more, responsibilities with kids, work, school and activities. But every week, we still make it work. Sometimes one or both of us will stay up late on Thursday to make sure that extra bit of work is done so we can truly disengage the next day. On Friday though, the work stops, we put away our distractions, and we focus on each other. And most everyone who knows us well, knows this is our routine.
If you don’t already have a Sabbath and/or family-focused day, I can’t encourage you enough to start one. Just like us, you won’t always get it right, but once you get started, you’ll figure out how to continually shift as your family’s needs shift. Take steps to set the necessary boundaries between you and your job, technology, and other people, and make Sabbath a priority in your life.
Even when life is really busy, it’s still possible to prioritize rest, connection to your loved ones, and connection to God.