Learning to Rest

Learning to Rest 150 150 Nathaniel Lee Hansen

You wouldn’t consider yourself someone who was a workaholic. As a newlywed, you were not necessarily lazy, but you most definitely were not as focused as you could have been. By the time you began your PhD program, you were driven, hard-working, and willing to miss any events to “keep up” with your work. In short, you were bordering on workaholism.

You are 5 years into your practice of Sabbath, and if you hadn’t decided to institute that, you wonder how your life would be now. You instituted the practice during the final year of your PhD program, and all you can say is that you wished you had done so earlier.

As a college professor, you can always be doing work–“normal” workday hours (9-5, 8-4, etc.) are the exception. Nonetheless, your practice of Sabbath has resulted in many benefits, two of which are crucial: 1) More energy for Monday, and the rest of the week 2) more time with your wife, son, and daughter. You have not been concerned with creating a list of “approved” and “unapproved” activities/tasks for your Sundays; you are, however, concerned about honoring God, devoting time to your family, and allowing yourself to “rest.”

It’s tempting sometimes to forego the habit, like that week in mid-February during one of your busiest weeks of the year, but you resisted. You wanted to get at those tasks you need to do. Instead, you wrote letters to your kids (in those notebooks you’ll be giving them on their 18th birthdays). You read some good books. You calmed your daughter for a much-needed nap. You played a game with your son. You went on a date with your wife.

Your weekly day of rest is part of a larger plan to develop a better balance between the extremes of laziness and overwork. You know that you’re a better Christ-follower, a better husband and father, a better teacher, a better writer. You know all too well that the trap of workaholism shares characteristics with another American vice: busyness. And you know that Sabbath is both a counter and a corrective to both vices. In those truths, and in the author of all truth, you rest.

Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I’m a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. My chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). My work has appeared in Christianity and Literature, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Blast Furnace, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. I currently serve as an assistant professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. I also edit Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature and direct the annual Windhover Writers’ Festival. When not writing or teaching, I run, read, play piano, listen to music, and play disc golf. My greatest joys are my wife, my son, and my daughter. I was born in southern Minnesota, but while growing up, I had little interest in the Plains and opens spaces. A stint at a rural state liberal arts college in southwestern Minnesota, as well as grad-school stints in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota, altered my interests. @plainswriter, plainswriter.com, & www.facebook.com/plainswriter

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