First, I feel like I should ‘fess up about something to y’all: I’m not a fan of the Message Bible. Maybe it’s the writer/editor in me, but usually when I see it quoted it makes me cringe. It’s just SO wordy, you guys, and I feel like God’s a lot more eloquent than that, and a lot better at getting to the point. Not my favorite translation, is what I’m saying.
Having said that, there is a line in the Message translation of Matthew 11:28 that I kind of love. For those who aren’t familiar with the Message version, here’s a more traditional translation from the NIV:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Now here’s the Message version:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The line I love? “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Part of the reason I love that line so much is that a couple of months ago, when I was giving in to my tendency to get my Martha on and fill my plate with all kinds of unnecessary busy-work to make myself feel more in control of life, and getting overwhelmed as a result, this phrase started popping up. And it kept popping up. Everywhere. Every time I looked online, there it was. Other translations of that verse popped up, too, but mostly it was that one, particularly that one line.
I finally threw up my hands and said, “I get it, Lord!” And then I sat down and evaluated how I was spending my time and figured out what I could take off my plate and how I could slow down to get re-focused on what really matters.
Some tools came into my life around that time that helped with that. One was Jess Connolly’s Fall Into Freedom fall planning workbook, which was great for helping me figure out my priorities and where I need to fix my focus during this season. It was while filling that out that I decided to experiment with giving myself a “Day of Grace” one day a week.
My “Day of Grace” is a day in the middle of the week — usually Wednesday, but that’s flexible — when I don’t schedule anything. Well, we usually do some grocery shopping that morning, but other than that I don’t schedule anything. The rest of the day is for whatever I need it to be. Sometimes it’s catching up on work projects I’ve fallen behind on, or getting on top of things. Sometimes it’s focused on making progress on my novel, or catching up on housework, or knocking out a craft project. Sometimes it’s an afternoon of holing up with my Bible and some worship music and praying and journaling and processing. Sometimes it’s just for camping out on the couch with a good book.
Basically, it’s for whatever my soul needs in order to feel settled and properly aligned.
I was skeptical when I first came up with this idea, and really hesitant when it came time to mark the first Grace Day in my bullet journal. There already didn’t seem to be enough time in the week, and I had already decided to devote Mondays to blogging. So if I did this it would only leave three weekdays for doing freelance work. Would I end up having to work weekends to fit it all in? I didn’t expect to be able to do this every week. It just didn’t seem possible.
I’m going on about six weeks of incorporating a Grace Day into the middle of my week, and so far I haven’t had to skip a single week (as you can probably tell from my lack of consistent posting lately, I’ll more readily give up my blogging day than give up my Grace Day). It’s actually made my weeks more productive. I’m more motivated on Monday and Tuesday, knowing that I’ll be able to relax a little on Wednesday, and on Thursday and Friday I’m more rested and focused instead of feeling worn out and counting down Saturday.
My weekends have gotten better, too. Before, I would plan several creative projects to do on the weekend, only to realize I was dead tired by the time Saturday arrived and spend it camped out on the couch staring at a book or a screen–and then spend Sunday after church scrambling to catch up on housework and get ready for the coming week. Now, I’m not so exhausted on Saturday and I actually do some of the things I planned. It also helps knowing that Saturday is no longer the only day of the week that I’ll have a chance to really rest and recharge.
So, I forced myself to step into some grace-filled rhythms. But since taking that initial step of faith, it’s been pretty unforced, coming more naturally with each passing week.
Of course I realize that, not having kids or a 9 to 5 job with an employer to appease, this sort of thing is a little easier for me than it might be for you. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and finding that you’re being a little too much Martha and not enough Mary, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to open up a window of grace in your life so you can tend to your soul. It might not be a whole day, or even an afternoon, but I bet even an Hour of Grace here and there, if you can manage it, would help–and I bet God won’t even let you miss that hour from the rest of your week.
Are you going to give it a try, or do you already have something similar established in your weekly routine? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups: