Work is a strange creature. For many of us, we don’t particularly enjoy work. There are those who do love their work and I’m happy for them. For the majority of the population, however, work is something that is done to pay the bills. And that pay-the-bills job is rarely the dream job.
Your average person looks forward to clocking out and not having to be at work. Yet, take the same average person and introduce the idea of not working one day a week and they have a hissy fit. Why? Folks complain about having to work then, when you say, “Take a day off,” they get angry and refuse. Sad to say, that was me.
Just relax, will ya?
Not working on Shabbat was one of the hardest things I had to overcome in my walk with Torah. Yet I didn’t like having to be at work. That sounds all backwards, doesn’t it? You would think that I would have run up and laid a big fat kiss on the first person that told me that I should take a complete day of rest according to the Bible. Instead, I responded with a big fat, “Whatever!”
For months and months, I continued to work on Shabbat. Granted it wasn’t necessarily my job I was working at—that ended at five o’clock Friday night. No, I was working on my own stuff. I was working on the things I wanted to work on. And, as strange as this sounds, I was doing housework. Yes, I said, housework! That means that, instead of kicking back and relaxing, I preferred to scrub a toilet.
Discomfort in my comfort zone
I began to realize that, while I craved rest, I still continued to work, even to my discomfort. Then it hit me. I wasn’t working because I wanted to work, I was working because that was what I was used to doing. I had been programmed to not rest, neither on Saturday nor any other day. And here’s the weird thing, Americans are obese and lazy yet we can’t take a day off? We have officially entered the Twilight Zone.
The first thing I did was refuse to do yard work. This was pretty easy since I don’t like yard work and usually hire the old man next door to mow my lawn. No more of that…at least not on Saturday (not for the old man either). Next Shabbat work sacrifice: housework. This was harder than I thought since the image of a dirty dish is more uncomfortable than actually washing it. But I persisted and blew off doing the dishes and everything else around the house.
The last, and most difficult thing for me to give up was drawing my comics. This was tough because 1) I enjoy drawing my comics, and 2) the weekends are great for getting ahead with one’s own endeavors. The weekdays are mostly taken up with a job so Saturday and Sunday are like big open fields of creative freedom time. I’d put the pencil down but I could almost hear my cartoon characters calling out to me to make them live. I don’t have children so these characters are my babies. It hurt to not spend time with them. I feared they would leave me and one day I’d find them living it up in a Dilbert strip or something.
I did rationalize my comic creating for a long time. I told myself, “I’m really not making a lot of money with this comic strip stuff so it’s more of a hobby. And a hobby is not work, right?” That convinced my mind for a little while but the realization that I wanted to make money off of these comics one day made it work. Plus, I wasn’t focusing on God so that pretty much sealed it.
I’m happy to say that I am now work-less on Shabbat and happy. I look back and wonder why I ever wanted to work at all. In fact, I now want Shabbat to be every day! I can’t get enough of praising God and fellowshipping (is that a word?). Instead of my own stuff overflowing into the Shabbat, Shabbat overflows into the rest of my week. I no longer have to work at not working on Shabbat. That, to me, is the definition of true rest.