One thing I have come to appreciate of late is the sabbath Day. That is because of late I have found myself extremely busy -- or maybe I have made myself busy. There are things I have wanted to learn (there's nothing inherently wrong with this), but not enough time to even break the surface of learning them. Until recently, I would come home from work and take online courses, or I would try to learn a little bit more about this blogging platform.
Meanwhile, I was passing up many opportunities to study, ponder, love, and serve. If I was doing these things, I was doing them half-heartedly. When a friend would call and ask to do something last minute, I would get grouchy. I only have so much time, I would think, give me a heads up at the least. And sure, planning is always a good thing, but my attitude towards others was not helping either of us.
But each sabbath day, a day once a week where I put aside work and remember God and His blessings, has helped to keep me from turning rotten. In fact, I feel sanctified and happier as I turn to focus on God and others. I also attend church on the sabbath, a community of others also taking time to remember God and to love and care for one another. It's a day that has helped me remember what Thomas S. Monson said:
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.
The sabbath reminds us that there is more to life than solving problems, succeeding in the workplace, and more generally, having it all right now. There are people to love and to help, and there is a spiritual healing that all in society desperately need. As I reflect, I ask myself, has God not taken care of me as I have remembered him? Have I not been blessed when I have put Him first? Indeed, my greatest successes have been a direct result of living a life of faith. Problems have been solved, my career has gone right, and I have generally had things better and more quickly than I would have imagined by first looking to God and to loving and serving others. These blessings have not always arrived at the time or in the manner I have expected, but they have always exceeded expectations when they did arrive.
I have written as if this has all happened and I am a changed man. Yet I think each season of our lives bring unique challenges. I can think of a couple such periods in my own life. One was while serving as a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another time was my first couple quarters of grad school when I often had 60+ hours of homework each week. You may ask, as a missionary weren't you completely dedicated to teaching, loving, and serving? I would say mostly, but sometimes in such a structured, day-to-day routine, one doesn't have time to see their growth or to even stop and be grateful for what they are experiencing. In grad school, I was preparing the foundations of a fruitful career and the ability to support a family in the future, but I at times complained about this load and time of growth.
Immediately following both of these periods were more relaxing times, times when I did more to reach out to others, times when I felt loved and respected, and times when I also reached out (what a surprise that these two go together). In those times, the sabbath day served as a time to pour out gratitude, and even to give thanks for the former growing pains.
The point here is that in any of the circumstances I have described, there was always a seventh of my life keeping me from veering off from what matters most. I am not excusing anyone to treat others worse during certain seasons of their life, but I do understand there will be periods of trials and testing. Thus, we need this to bring us back to all that is good and right. This will fill us with optimism and love, which will hopefully enable us to have that love and gratitude every day and during all seasons of our lives.
...The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath
Isaiah 58: 13-14
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.