The first words out of a professor’s mouth when their students return from a break:
“Well, I hope you are all rested, because now it’s time to get to work.”
We have just returned to school after two months of being home. We should be rested, right? Many of us would likely answer no. For some, the past few months have been insanely stressful in nearly every area of life.
This semester, how do we protect against burnout–an imminent threat for every college student? Although it may seem counterintuitive for productivity’s sake, maintaining a Sabbath is the only true defense against this state of fatigue.
The Sabbath was instituted by God after the Israelites finally left their captivity in Egypt. At this time they were in the nascent stages of forming a new nation. He commanded work to be done on the first six days of the week and for the seventh day to be distinct from the rest. This day was to be holy and set apart.
The seventh day was established for multiple purposes. Firstly, it forced the Israelite (a people oppressed by the physical demands of slavery for over four hundred years) to corporally reset and heal. Secondly, without any work to be done, it created a culture of responsibility and trust. The people held each other accountable for completing necessary tasks before the Sabbath. As the Israelites came to rely more heavily upon one another, responsibility and trust increased. For example, if a man did not collect enough food by the Sabbath, he had to wait until either the next day for food or turn to a neighbor for help. The Israelites were moved to trust one another not only for their own needs, but those of others as well. More importantly, the Israelites became physically and spiritually dependent on the hand of God. Whatever food and community they had came from him. Lastly, the Sabbath illustrated an aspect of God’s character worthy of emulation. God, who has no lack, took the time to rest and enjoy His creation. The Creator of the world spent a day to experience what He made. As image-reflections of the Most High, it would be beneficial to reflect on these observations and implement them for ourselves.
Now you may ask, “Okay, this is all fine and good, but how does it actually work?” Though I am not the end-all, be-all authority on this subject, here are a few things what I have found to be helpful from my own personal experience:
- Set boundaries. Overcommitting is often characteristic of devoted college students. In taking a Sabbath, use your ability to say “no.” Kindly explain to those around you that doing X on is not in your best interest.
- Spend time in nature. However you best enjoy God’s creation―experience it. Make time for a walk (if that is even possible in New England). Sit in the sunshine for a few minutes. Play Spikeball with friends. Cloud watch. Spend time to appreciate the things that arouse joy and wonder for God’s creation.
- Reconnect with the people you love. God made us to be in relationship with others. In the midst of a burn-out, many times our relationships are the first to suffer. Use this opportunity to intentionally seek after those you love.
The Sabbath is the truest form of self-care. It is a dedicated time for you to reconnect with God, your surroundings, your loved ones, your environment, and yourself. Our God is not legalistic. He asks you to set aside a day out of an abundance of his love, not out of some arbitrary, restrictive vendetta. The Sabbath is not a checklist of dos and don’ts. Rather, it is a habitual pattern written into our hearts so that we may lay down our burdens and rest.
Try it this weekend. I’m sure you will have no regrets.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not proport to reflect the opinions or views of the Gordon Review, editorial staff, or its members.
Categories: Student Life