I am currently working on a seminar that I need to lead on the practice of Sabbath as a spiritual discipline. (Actually, before that assignment I have to hand in a seven page confession of my Christology, and trying very hard not to swear like Fred Flinstone in my head because it has been a very frustrating assignment to start off the semester!) But for now it’s Sabbath. Taking time to rest, let go of our doing, and reorient ourselves to God.
Ironic, really. Since Marc and I have been feeling extreme stress all week. Ironic. Since if there was ever a time in all of these three years of seminary where I feel the pull in all directions to be a better wife, better mother, better student, better friend, better follower of Jesus, it is now. Ironic or maybe well-timed.
I feel like I want to teach the seminar without actually participating in Sabbath. Like I could better lead people in the letting go Sabbath requires than letting go myself. There is no more appropriate lesson and no more difficult a lesson for me on the brink of entering the ministry than learning to let go.
I have these pangs of panic and regret that, I am learning, occur when something goes wrong that I had no real control over but think “if only I had…” things wouldn’t have gone wrong. Marc’s speeding ticket, for example. Reminding Marc to play the “seminary student” card when trying to get the speeding ticket lowered. Or what happened tonight:
We went skating as a family tonight. As a family — including Dixie “who has not skated in 15 years” actually putting on skates (or, in this case, having skates put on her by her husband) and joining in. The main rink on campus had guys playing hockey, but we ran into our neighbour on our slightly-sad walk home from the full rink and he invited us to skate on the rink in their yard.
And I did it! I very cautiously (and sarcastically, making excessive and extreme comments about breaking bones) got on the ice, holding very tightly to Marc, and slowly started moving. It didn’t take me too long to catch on. I certainly didn’t go very fast. But I did move — eventually without Marc’s help. And I did not fall, which was a plus.
After freezing my feet sufficiently, I talked with our neighbour for a bit, but when Marc said the bbq would be ready soon (because it is the kind of winter here in Southern Manitoba where we can bbq in February!), I headed home. In my head, as I walked, I thought, “I just hope they can finish skating without Luke making a big scene. I should remind him to be careful and use his manners.” But I kept walking figuring “what could happen?!”
Well, nothing really happened. Nothing catastrophic, anyway. But less than 5 minutes after my being home Marc is dragging Luke across the yard from the neighbours and everyone’s upset because Luke wrecked the ice fort the girls had been making on the ice. I don’t really know what I was mad at. I calmly talked to Luke, but inside I was so frustrated. “Why can’t we just do one thing without there being a big blow-up?! Why does there always have to be so much drama?! I’m tired of all the drama.”
It really felt like the whole hour of skating fun was ruined because it ended with that. And, of course, I was embarrassed. It’s one thing if he has a freak out in our house. It’s another thing if it’s in public. But should it be? Why? Why do I feel the need to hide the fact that there is drama in the house? Or… maybe I don’t hide it, but I certainly am less anxious when it’s not in public…
All through supper I had pangs of, “if only I’d reminded him to stay calm, I bet that never would’ve happened.” It’s as though my actions are the linchpin that prevents everything from turning into chaos. That if I act in just the right way, everything in our family dynamics would be perfect. That it all rests on me.
Do you know what a huge weight that is to carry? To put on myself? To know that is it not true, yet it feels like it is true? It’s exhausting and frustrating.
And so I tried to let it go. Really I did. It didn’t really work. I still had those feelings of regret. And then all the other regrets filed into my mind too — the fact that I’m 4 years behind in developing pictures, the fact that I was trying to get caught up in converting old home videos and now the tape of Olivia as a baby is tangled up in the video camera and we can’t get the video camera to open… Those regrets that just sink like a weight in the pit of my stomach. The ones that make me feel powerless to fix, yet like I am the only who can fix them.
Marc reminded me at supper that this stuff happens to everyone. Even our neighbour said that to him. And that did lighten my anxiety a bit. But I know I need to choose to let go. I need to have a Sabbath not only in my week, but also in my mind when life hits me. To, in the moment, give those anxieties some rest and perspective, to find peace when being pulled in a hundred different directions, even just by me.
Sabbath. I know it will be good. To let it all go, even just for the Sabbath, and maybe being changed enough by rest that I don’t pick it all up again when the Sabbath is over.
(Look at me all letting go of my fears of skating… even have a smile on my face, though, if you look closely, the eyebrows give away the fact that I am concentrating really hard and bracing for a fall at any moment.)