This post originally was published for Speak Digital, my weekly newsletter. You can subscribe for free here.
Holy Week, at least for many Christians around the world, is finally here. Beginnning on the Sunday prior to Easter (often called Palm Sunday), Holy Week is often seen as a span of seven days that is ideal for those of us who want to unplug and refocus. I really like this take on Lent, the period leading up to Holy Week.
- You need a break from your regular schedule.
- You're tired of social media.
- "Quiet" seems to make sense this time of the year.
- You want to focus on prayer, family, and sabbath-keeping.
- Refocusing is normal to do several times per year.
- Stress takes us off-track and tuckers us out.
- For people of faith, certain times of the year enable a greater spiritual awareness.
- Everyone takes their eye off the ball at one point or another.
All of this came together one morning this past week. I've been wrestling with headaches and overall tiredness all during Lent. During my morning commute, I came across Chad Brooks, the man behind The Productive Pastor Podcast. (you should check it out!)
In one episode with JD Walt, he makes a case for a sustained and honorable sabbath. JD and Walt argue that a "good" sabbath is one that feeds the soul rather than just a day a week that we cram with errands and a to-do list that's overflowing with chores. I was convicted. Being in a doctoral program has "blessed" me with more pressure than ever to write, research and meet my deadlines. As a result, I've been working, in one way or another, seven days a week for a long time. Not good.
What about you? Have you been taking a day off each week to feed your soul, rest your body and renew your mind?
How about this, during this year's Holy Week (which starts today), take the challenge to unplug. You can do this very easily and I suspect that, in a week's time, you'll be glad you did:
- Cut down on social media. If you really have to use it, just check it once a day. If you can afford to stay off it altogether, go for it.
- Don't let email take over. Again, as with #1, check it once or twice a day but that's it. Turn off all dings and notifications.
- Give solitude a big hug. Get outdoors. Go to the ocean. Visit a mountain. Spend time in church. Get quiet by getting away. It's hard to listen when things are noisy.
- Practice the Jim Eliot principle. The missionary Eliot once said, "Wherever you are, be all there." Whatever you decide to do this week, be fully present. God is right there in the middle of whatever is on your plate right now. Suffering, joy, success, struggle- He's there.
I can't wait to experience an extended sabbath this Holy Week. With some practice and a gentle refocusing, it might be a stretch of seven days that allows you to unplug and refocus on what's really important. Go for it!