The high pitch sound of metal zipping and polyester fabric stretching hung in the air as I closed up the last duffle bag. Like a heavy weight, the finality of our decision settled in on my chest. Fear mixed with excitement swirled inside me, prickling my skin, awakening something deep within.
Making the decision to leave our home, our business, our cats, our creature comforts, our kids’ normal summer activities, our friends, our church, our extended family, our phones, our inboxes and unplug for ten weeks for a summer sabbatical turned from a dream into a reality in that precise moment. When the last bag was packed.
Turning to my husband, my face said it all, but the words spilled out of me anyway, “I can’t believe we’re really doing this.”
We woke up early the next morning to catch our flight and took one final “before” picture of the six of us. We didn’t know how our 10-week long sabbatical would change us, individually and as a family, but we knew deep down we would not come home the same.
On the front end, we kept where we were going a secret, mostly because we knew once we told people, the focus would shift immediately from sabbatical to our location. While the location was a big piece of the puzzle on the planning side of things, we carried a sabbatical mindset into every single decision we made.
The location fit our purpose for the summer, but the location itself was not the purpose. This distinction made all the difference because a vacation and a sabbatical are two wonderful but different things. Our purpose was connection, not seeing all the sites. We didn’t try to cram in all the things; instead, we created space for connection with God, ourselves, and each other.
I think of John 15 and how we’re called to stay connected to the one true vine. John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Strengthening this connection, this abiding, is vital for life and shifts our perspective from doing for God to being with God.
Living in a world full of distractions, we tend to live disconnected from God, who we really are, and from the people who mean the most to us. This was our why for our sabbatical and while we packed our bags with other things to seek God about, we kept coming back to this sole purpose of connection.
Do you feel like you, too, are living in a world full of distractions vying for your greatest commodity, your time? While we are more connected than ever online, statistics show that people feel increasingly more anxious and more alone than ever. And while a sabbatical might not be possible for you right now, a sabbatical mindset is.
Our mindset navigates the posture of our hearts, going into anything big or small. Our mindset alters how we navigate our day, whether we’re at home, work, on vacation, or on sabbatical. Our mindset informs our decisions, sets our expectations, and orients our hearts.
While things are different now that I’m back home, my sabbatical mindset has found its way into my everyday life in the form of practices. The most repeated question I get from friends is, “What does it look like to incorporate what you learned on sabbatical into your everyday life?”
Well, I’ve been home 3 months, and it’s taken me time to process all the things God did in my family and me during our time away. But I see five things rising up to the top of my list of ways I’m applying our sabbatical to my everyday life. I may not physically look different in our “after” photo, but I see the difference in my “after” soul.
I wholeheartedly believe in the beauty of these practices and I pray they will be helpful in your everyday, right now, life. This list is not all-encompassing or meant to be prescriptive. This is about a posturing of our hearts for connection in everything we do. Whether we are sitting with Jesus with our Bibles open and a pen in hand journaling, working-out at the gym, working on a project, or changing diapers, connection is available to us.
5 Sabbatical Practices that Apply to your Everyday Life
1) The practice of paying attention.
2) The practice of being present.
3) The practice of stillness.
4) The practice of silence.
5) The practice of simplicity.
I’m putting these words in your hands, like tools meant for your own use. I hope the language, alone, will give you something to grab hold of and be helpful to you. I have full confidence that you don’t need me to tell you how these practices could translate into your own life.
However, if you’re curious I will walk through each one over the next four weeks. I will share from my own experience of how I’ve implemented each practice into my own everyday life.
These posts will be delightfully short. I will share a story from my time on the little island of Kauai and a practical application for how you can live out each of these practices in your right-now life.
I’m so excited to invite you into something that feels sacred to me. I’m giving you the first practice now. So, this post is really a “twofor.” I’m cracking myself up, over here. Thanks for joining me on the journey.