During our family’s year of Sabbath-keeping, I began collecting a list of objections people had to the idea of a dedicated time for rest and play. These were things I heard personally, statements I read in other books on Sabbath, or things I even told myself during our experiment.
I wrestled with many of these objections in the book, but by no means all. Some issues feel intractable and defy pat answers—if you are caregiving an ailing parent who needs you around the clock, Sabbath may feel impossible. Some objections are situational—people who work on the weekends or are always on call. And some objections show a limited or mistaken understanding of Sabbath—we didn’t do explicitly faith-based activities on Sabbath, for example, although as we’ve already established, I’m an unapologetic Sabbath heretic.
But some of our objections can be worked through. Some of the stuff we tell ourselves is nothing more than self-defeating talk. Some of it comes from inertia—the insanity I know is better than the Sabbath I don’t know, because being “idle and blessed” (Mary Oliver) can bring up stuff about ourselves, some of which we’re not too keen to face.
But I love a good gripe-fest. There’s something satisfying about seeing all the resistance out in the open: pulling the clutter out of the closet and beholding it, in all its messy, disheveled glory.
Which is where you come in. Here is my list of Sabbath excuses. Which of these resonate with you?
What would you add to this list?
Sabbath isn’t relevant for our 24-7 world time. Sabbath is a relic of a bygone era.
I don’t have time.
I’m fine. I’m happy. I don’t need to rest.
We observed the Sabbath when I was a kid. It was SO boring. I swore I’d never do that again.
I’d rather not spend a day doing faith-based activities, quietly reading the Bible, whatever.
My kids would never agree to it.
My teenagers would never agree to it.
Sabbath is a Jewish (or Christian) practice, and I don’t practice that religion. We shouldn’t co-opt a practice not our own.
I already make time to rest from my work and don’t need a fancy title for it.
People who have time to take Sabbath rest obviously don’t have enough to do.
There are so many problems plaguing our world—how can you sit around and “be spiritual” while there is suffering happening that you could help alleviate through your life and work?
You can rest when you’re dead. Life is too short.
The seven-day week is a false construct. Rest when you need to, not when the calendar tells you to.
Technology means you can work when you want and rest when you want—taking a whole day is a false construct. Be more fluid and intuitive about when you need to work and rest.
It shows a lack of sensitivity to the needs of others—face it, sometimes people need you on that day. The vast majority of the world doesn’t observe Sabbath—they’re just going to see you as selfish if you’re not available.
Sabbath is a practice of privilege—other people have to work during your Sabbath—how can you enjoy that time of rest when other people don’t have that luxury?
Sabbath just creates more work. I spend the day beforehand getting ready for it and the day after cleaning up from it.
Of course you can do this, your kids are young. They aren’t in that many activities yet.
Your kids will miss out on opportunities to play sports, do drama/speech team, marching band, etc. They won’t get into college because you’ve had to say no to these extracurricular activities.
That’s what vacation is for.
That’s what retirement is for.
Kids are constant work, so you might as well embrace it. Life with kids is work no matter what you do.
My kids are very active and energetic. They’d be in all kinds of mischief if we all just sat around all day.