Can you believe that the first month of 2020 is almost over? As January 1, 2020, approached, my head told me that I needed to make goals and resolutions, but my soul felt like it needed a nap. I struggled with writing and corresponding. I felt emotionally exhausted. December 28 had marked the anniversary of our daughter Nicole's death. It had been 21 years since I had seen her beautiful face. The date seemed to weigh on me more than usual. I tried to push through and force myself to make goals to do more and be more, but it was as if I couldn't access my heart. During this struggle, I felt the Lord gently say, "Rest. Just let your soul rest in me."
The Bible teaches us to take a day a week to rest. As a matter of fact, God led by example, when He created the world. He is God, and He rested. I believe honoring the Sabbath is a discipline that is vital and beneficial in our lives, but I usually (when I have honored it) it has been physically, not soulfully. To give our bodies a day of rest or sometimes even an extended period of rest is easier for us to define. We know what that looks like in our lives, but to allow our souls to rest can seem vague. I had been emotionally "on" for so long; I didn't know how to turn it off.
I began to explore the thought inwardly and asked the Lord how I should go about it. A few seeds were planted in my heart as I felt like He gave me permission to take time off from being mentally productive all the time - striving and pushing constantly. He reminded me that striving was not His idea, but that I had put the pressure on myself.
Yes, I have responsibilities that I cannot avoid. I am like you; we don't have the luxury of escaping to a monastery somewhere for a month of meditation. Anyway, the Soul Fatigue I was experiencing couldn't be cured with a vacation or trip to the spa. Soul Fatigue is a deep weariness that saturates our very being
A Soul Sabbatical required me to put aside my expectations of what a good Christian girl was. Let go of the striving and "be" God's girl. That takes trust...Right? Because really, if I didn't do it, who would? God assured me that the world wouldn't fall into oblivion if I stopped striving.
I took some extended time off from writing, corresponding, most social media, and even in-depth Bible Study. I didn't listen to podcasts or spiritual or audiobooks. I did listen to uplifting, positive music, and just thought about God and pondered His creation. A beautiful thing happened. God began to refresh my soul.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
Psalm 23: 1-4
Only when I began to be intentional about taking a break from doing "all the right things" was I able to hear His voice as the Shepherd. He gave me the Soul Sabbatical only He could provide. Then my soul was expanded and renewed. I was able to follow Him along productively along the right paths and into the plans that He has for me.