Weeks 6 – 8 of This Sabbath Year

As I look back on the last few weeks, I can’t believe how little time has passed.  It’s fascinating how a few weeks can feel worlds apart from one another. Week six of this Sabbath year, the first full week of August, was a week of transition, split between Lake Erie and Muncie. It included church at home, jet skiing on Lake Erie, trying out our first days of virtual school (away from home, in the car, and at home to try out all the options), some side work for Inspire, and frantically driving the boys to a youth zip lining trip we almost missed because our family communication lines were tangled amidst our new life setup.

By the middle of week seven of our Sabbath year, I was beginning to figure out what was needed for virtual school success and finding new rhythms and routines. Week eight was well situated for settling into a new routine at home, but life threw us some curveballs…as usual. It doesn’t matter whether we are pursuing rest and a lighter schedule or a busy schedule of working toward societal change, there is no pause button on life.  The world keeps turning. Amidst the curveballs, I successfully prioritized the needed routine for a virtual school experience full of academic growth for the boys, and I feel good about the progress we are making.  This was definitely the right choice for our year of Sabbath together.

I am currently pondering and processing a lot of things, so much so that it is interrupting my sleep some nights. There is such a tug-of-war in my spirit right now between living life publicly and privately. This manifests itself in every area of my life and is an intense mental battle that surfaces constantly.

It manifests itself in my work educating my own children and my part-time work supporting Inspire’s growth and development. I love using my skills and training to invest in the education of my own children and believe that is to be my primary focus this year. However, I also feel a responsibility to support the school community I founded. I love working in public education. I love the challenge. I love the students and families and all the opportunities to impact societal change. The job of School Leader was hard and taxing, and it required consistently pushing adults out of their comfort zones and challenging deeply engrained views of the world. Serving in a position of authority meant I was working to inspire adults and students to be more, do more, become more. And society expects this – public education institutions are held accountable for single-handedly making societal shifts in achievement, regardless of what other systemic changes need to happen to facilitate these shifts. I am enjoying not trying to get people to change and just being able to appreciate and love people for who they are…regardless of their growth rate. And yet I can’t shake that education greatly impacts one’s opportunities in life … and one’s first experiences of affirmation or marginalization.

The tug-of-war between living publicly and privately also manifests itself in my writing and sharing. I know people enjoy reading updates on my year, my processing, and my Sabbath journey. I often get check-ins or appreciations based on something someone read. And yet, in some ways I feel this journey is for me, not for everyone else. The online sharing and engaging feels like work in and of itself in some ways. In other ways, it provides a helpful outlet for processing through writing.  Do I continue to share? Do I continue to blog? There is opportunity for more people to grow from my thoughts when I share. People feel welcomed and included in the journey. People who may not stop by my front porch can still feel like they know me. And yet, I am enjoying more time with those who are close enough to stop by and linger as the kids play. I enjoy writing, but I don’t like thinking about how many people are reading and the constant reality of developing an online presence.

Some days I find myself avoiding social media and other days I find myself interacting multiple times in one day. I have friends who are on a lot, and I have friends who are on less and less. In some ways, I think it would make me socially happier to not engage in social media. And in other ways, I think I would miss out on feeling connected to the people I don’t see multiple times every week.  There are those who don’t live next door or go to church with me who aren’t posting online anymore, and I feel a growing distance of an unshared world.

The challenge is that there are so many beautiful people in the world and so many opportunities in life. During my Inspire years, I met beautiful people and have developed many deep, lasting friendships with people I never knew before Inspire. At the same time, I missed out on developing other relationships and grew distant from some beautiful people I knew more before Inspire. At this point in the journey, I am processing the hard decisions of who and what to invest in, as I walk through the process of Sabbath this year. Some may say to just let life come to me and enjoy each moment, but in reality, I have a lot of control over what people get my time and energy, even in my year of rest. Is it those who engage me through social media? Those who quietly read my updates and mention how they love reading them? Those in my neighborhood? Those popping up on phone? Those in my email? Those at events and gatherings I attend or organize? Those I invite? Those who just happen to be passing by? Those who my children connect with? Those who I miss and decide to reach out to?

There is so much to be learned and so much work to be done! But it is not lost on me that many have engaged in the wrong work and caused more problems than they’ve solved. It is also not lost on me that most people who truly make a lasting impact on improving equality and human rights in this world, do so with great personal sacrifice.   For now, I shall continue to pursue rest and reflection in prayer, in hopes that whatever part-time work I engage in is life-giving for all impacted; whatever solitude I pursue is healthy, Christ-centered solitude and meditation; whatever relationships I invest in are life giving for all involved; and whatever future projects I pursue are ones that make the world look more like the world envisioned by Jesus of Nazareth. This next week promises to be filled with more surprises and more time at home.  I intend to roll with the punches, limit commitments, and embrace what life has for me as I choose less work and more rest.  Until next time…

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