Sabbath: Saying no

We need to be intentional about guarding our calendars and learning to say No.

Inevitably, when it comes to rest, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. If allowing my iPhone to have too much influence on my life is a more of a weakness for me, saying No is something that my wife, Rachel, finds harder than I do.

If people invite her out socially or ask her to do something, her instinctive response is to always say Yes. And, of course, on many levels it’s great to be a Yes person who enters fully into all of life’s opportunities — I loved the film ‘Yes Man’! — but the danger of this approach is that we can soon lose control of our calendar. And then our calendar starts to dictate our whole lives, and there is no natural room left for either spontaneity or rest. We can end up running ourselves dry.

Personality comes into this, of course. An introvert is going to need more time alone time than an extrovert, for example. But whoever we are, we all still need some time for sabbath away from the crowds — and it won’t happen by accident. We will need to be intentional, and that means guarding our calendars and learning to say No sometimes.

If we have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time for physical exercise, reading, and meditation (three incredibly life-enhancing activities that can each in their own way be an expression of sabbath), we are almost certainly not saying No enough. Or, to put it another way, if we don’t make the space for sabbath, we run the risk of our life ending up out of balance and our health and well-being compromised.

I know for me, I’m at a stage of life with two young kids that means life is exceptionally tiring and busy right now. Much of that I can do nothing about — in many respects it’s a stage of life where surviving rather than thriving is somewhat inevitable! But despite this stage of life, I can still make sure I help myself by doing what I can to prioritise sabbath time by making sure I say No when I need to.

No matter how busy and tired we are, we can all choose to make some space for restful, restorative life moments that will add value to our lives way beyond the minutes spent.

Why not go through your calendar for the rest of this month and write out a few evenings for intentional rest? If you write it in your calendar it’s also then easier to say, ‘No, sorry, I’m busy that night,’ when invitations come in.

Originally published at

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Sabbath: Death by smartphone