Our family is walking away from the daily routines of life and learning to rest. What’s behind our sabbatical announcement and learning to rest? Here are the details about our sabbatical.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
If you were as honest as you possibly could be, how would you answer that question? Two things to note: the person asking wouldn’t judge you, and the person asking would like to give you what you want.
It’s a tricky question. Even the way it’s phrased involves humility. It isn’t, “What do you want?” or “What do you want to do for yourself?” but “What do you want me to do for you?”
In a state of helplessness and dependence, when you know you can’t give yourself what you need, what do you want me to do for you?
Jesus asks this question of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus begins by crying out to Jesus for mercy, but when Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus says, “I want to see.” And Jesus restores his sight.
I’ve been meeting with a spiritual director once a month this fall, and in one of our sessions she drew my attention to this passage. She asked me how I would respond if Jesus posed the same question to me.
The first few things that came to mind felt false, like I was saying what I thought I was supposed to say. I want your love. I want you to teach me. I want you to lead me, guide me, protect me. Nothing wrong with any of that. But those thoughts didn’t emerge from a place of helplessness. They didn’t rise up from a place of need.
So then I went in a different direction. I want success. I want book sales. I want recognition. Again, honest. But I know there are needs underneath those surface desires. I know there’s more.
My Heart’s Whisper
Then there was a whisper: I want to learn how to rest.
As quickly as I heard it, I rebuked it. You get plenty of sleep and have a comfortable life. How could you ask for rest? You don’t work on Sundays (mostly) and don’t work full time. How could you need rest? And finally, if I learn how to rest, what if that means I have to say no to things? What if that means I have to disappoint people? What if that means I don’t get to work as much? What if that means failure?
It will come as no surprise for me to say that the whisper was the truth, the desire underneath the desires, the request that felt vulnerable and messy and uncomfortable to admit to Jesus, much less to myself. But there it is.
Meanwhile, my husband, Peter, was offered a 3-month sabbatical from his job. To condense the timeline a bit, he said no to taking three months away, but he did propose an unusual family trip. He asked if I would consider pulling the kids out of school and traveling for six weeks. “You can work from the road if you like,” he offered. (Peter wrote his own version of how this trip came to be and what we’ll be doing on his blog for school here.)
We crafted the time together—ten days in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to see family and follow a trail of Civil Rights museums and memorials. Then flying west for some vacation time as well as more travel, this time in an RV through five national parks and then visits to some of the major coastal cities of California. We’ll have a chance to attend churches from multiple traditions all over the country. We’ll have lots of family time and hopefully good personal time too.
Learning to Rest
I thought about blogging our way through it all. I thought about pitching magazines and compiling notes as we traveled. I even entertained the thought of hiring someone to film some of our time. But I came back to that question from Jesus and my hesitant answer: I want to learn how to rest.
So in a few days I will be walking away from email and social media (though my new social media coordinator will check in on my behalf!). I will take a break from bill paying and supervising homework and driving to ballet class and teaching Sunday School. I’m leaving my beloved planner behind. I’m bringing my Bible and journal and a Kindle. I’m also bringing a commitment to take whatever time is needed every day to be. To be with God. To be with each other. To be outside. To be. To learn. To rest.
Still, you might not notice that I’m gone. I’m excited to announce that starting next week, with a bonus episode on November 29th, I’ll be offering a podcast that runs every day until December 26th. There’s some new material, but mostly it’s an audio version of me reading the daily reflections from my ebook that walks through the season of Advent. You can check out the podcast here and subscribe wherever you typically find your podcasts. (More details about my podcast tomorrow!)
The Weeks Ahead
In the weeks ahead, I’ll also be sharing a series of guest posts about how people have responded to White Picket Fences. I have a few posts of my own planned for while I’m away. And I have another new ebook (an Action Guide to WPF) coming out soon. (Clearly, I need to learn how to rest instead of do since I have now planned blog posts into 2020!)
All this is to say, please keep checking in, but I wanted to let you know that I’ll be away for this time. And I wanted to invite you to dig down into that place of need within yourself and offer it to Jesus. You might be surprised, as I was, to discover that desire. And you might be surprised to discover that Jesus wants to give you what you need.