Editor’s Note: This article concludes our “April Fools” series! If you missed any, check out the April archives! Thank you to all of the writers who took time to contribute to this series!
“Beantown”… It’s a very old nickname for Boston, the beautiful and historical city where I live. Back in the day, Boston was known for its production of molasses and the evolving recipe of baked beans that became a staple meal for early Bostonians. Where am I going with this? What is often left out of the story is the fact that on Saturdays, the puritans and pilgrims would cook huge pots of baked beans which would stay well preserved in molasses over low heat until Sunday. They were so faithful to observe the Sabbath, they found ways to rest from even cooking! This is how baked beans became the staple Sunday meal of Bostonians until around the early 1900’s. (read more here!) The nickname “Beantown” is a constant reminder to me to keep the Sabbath holy … and keep it low-key.
I am not suggesting that we will lose our salvation if we choose to cook on Sunday, and I’m certainly not suggesting that we should all eat beans every Sunday. Otherwise, that could create other problems. But I do want to share some results with you from an online survey on “Work & Rest” for women that I recently sent out over Facebook. If you participated in this survey, thank you very much for taking the time to respond! I hope the survey and these results will help all of us to re-evaluate our time management, priorities and the misconceptions we have about rest and work.
To give you an idea of the sample that responded to the survey, here is some information:
Results for “What keeps us busy”: About 44 women responded to the survey. Of the 44 women, 28 (about 60%) are married, and 22 are mothers. Of the 22 mothers, 11 of them are full-time, stay-at-home moms. Less than 10 respondents were students, and about 30 respondents were employed.
Since I was using my free account on SurveyMonkey to create the survey, I could only ask ten questions. So, I was not able to make the response choices as mutually exclusive or exhaustive as I would have liked! But I definitely gathered some interesting information.
Results for “Are you too busy”? Most respondents admitted to being busy, but they were able to manage it. Only 10% of respondents said they were “too” busy. But about 42% of respondents said they did not usually have time to themselves! Many who responded in the open-ended field admitted that they needed to manage their time better. And many women talked about some “seasons of life” being busier than others. Some women admitted that taking care of themselves was the “first thing to go”.
I was not surprised by these results. We live in a “busy” society. But I was surprised to see that so many women feel as though they don’t have time for themselves, even though they claim to not be too busy. It’s possible that you’re thinking, “What does she know? She’s not a mom, yet!” … And I certainly imagine that this will be something I will have to face one day. But this is how I interpret these results: if you don’t have time for yourself, then you probably are too busy. Or, maybe you do have time, but you don’t think you deserve time for yourself. As a society, maybe we are afraid of having time to ourselves?
More responses: Over 50% of respondents said they felt they needed to stay busy in order to feel productive. And nearly 60% of respondents said it was possible that they kept themselves busy to avoid boredom and/or loneliness.
As Christian women, it’s important that we understand that our heavenly Father created work (including the work of being a mom!) and rest for us. He also exemplified it for us. His Son exemplified it for us. The scriptures constantly remind us to: work, work hard, be skilled, enjoy our work and enjoy what our work produces. Work is a blessing from God! And REST! Rest is also a command from God. A common misconception about rest is that it makes us feel unproductive! But the truth is, if we take time to rest, we will be more productive. Rest is also a good time to reflect, put life into perspective, enjoy family, etc.
When we make work and rest an “ultimate” thing, it becomes a problem. When work becomes an ultimate thing, we idolize it and cannot be satisfied without it. When it’s gone or taken away, we lose our joy and feelings of “purpose”. We feel useless without it. When we make Christ, the one who never leaves us or forsakes us, our one and only ultimate thing in life, we will be satisfied with Him regardless of our work. We gain our validation from Him alone. Of course we can take pleasure in our work, in a healthy way, when we realize it is a gift from God.
Avoiding boredom and loneliness is a sign of idolizing work and rest. We feel like we always have to be doing something. It’s hard to keep restful, quiet moments restful and quiet. We eliminate the silence by flipping on a show, a movie, checking Facebook, etc. I love to watch movies and shows and check my Facebook, but I cannot let this steal away much-needed peaceful moments for reflection, resting and praying. If this is you, I encourage you to read a post about solitude that I wrote a while back, if you have not yet. You may find it to be encouraging to you.
Results for Sabbath / “day of rest”: Sadly, only 1/3 of respondents said that they usually or always have a day of rest. Another 1/3 of respondents said they only have a day of rest sometimes. The last 1/3 said they rarely or never have a day of rest.
As much as I understand how difficult it is to rest, these statistics break my heart. In the open-ended fields, some women claimed that it was only “a season” because they had kids. Some say they get a little rest here and there throughout the week. Some said they needed to address this issue in their life and make changes. Some blatantly said that it just how life is. Before I continue, I would like to say that I understand that moms and dads still have one another and children to care for, even on their days off. Of course, children are not just a “job”, they are a precious part of your family that, especially when young, require nurture and care nearly 24/7.
What can we do, as women, to make the most of our restful days like the early puritans and pilgrims? We have a lot to learn from them! Can we cook a big, fun meal on Saturday, and eat leftovers on Sundays? Or prepare a lasagna on Saturday and simply bake it on Sunday? Can husbands and wives help each other to get as much done on Saturdays so they can enjoy family time on Sundays as much as possible? As I said earlier, we aren’t going to lose our salvation from changing a diaper on a Sunday, or taking out the trash … it’s a matter of the heart. What are we doing to promote and preserve our restful Sabbath day? As our own God exemplified hard work and good rest to us, are we exemplifying that to our children?
I have not arrived to a perfected lifestyle of work and rest, nor have I met anyone who has. As a matter of fact, I am putting off a final paper I should be writing right now! (Don’t tune me out now, I’m almost done!) I am constantly convicted at my lack of hard work “because I’m so in need of rest” and my lack of rest “because there’s so much to do”. We must remind ourselves of the validation that we receive from Christ’s ultimate work that He accomplished on the cross for us long ago. There is no level of performance that will make Christ love us more. There is nothing more He can give us – He already gave it all. And there is no greater love He can give us – He has already expressed the ultimate form of love toward us. Let’s take time, weekly, to allow our hearts and minds to rest, reflect and wait upon Him.