I’ve noticed something recently about Sundays. Maybe it’s because the weather is warm again and the breeze is coming through our windows, or maybe it’s because we’ve gotten in the habit of having a few friends over after church. But there’s something special about the day. Something lazy and endless that I can’t quite put my finger on.
The “day of rest” was ordained by God only 6 days into the existence of our world. He modeled it in creation when, on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. On that day, he also took time to delight in the fruit of his labor. In Exodus he commanded the Israelites to observe a Sabbath, so that they could rest and be refreshed. Jesus explained that the Sabbath was made for man. It is a gift.
From the Pharisees to the Puritans and well beyond, governing bodies have tried to “honor” the Sabbath with forced compliance. Understanding its importance, but missing the grace to be found in the day, they made work illegal to the point of extremism. Even as recently as the 1970’s in the U.S., “blue laws” forbade the sale of any goods on a Sunday in many places.
Children from the turn of the century describe the day as interminable, a gloomy and boring day filled with hushed speaking voices and sitting still, where no toys or music were allowed.
Today, as the pendulum of the last half-century has swung, our culture has rebelled against any kind of forced Sabbath. I don’t remember a world where stores or restaurants were closed on Sundays. I wonder if my kids won’t even remember a world where stores had shorter hours.
Still, there is something undeniably special about Sunday. It shouldn’t be quenched with oppressive rules and the sequestering of joy. It shouldn’t be ignored amidst the hustle of errands and chores. If you pause, and listen to the flutter of your curtains, clear your schedule, forget your to-do list, and let the day stretch wide in front of you, you’ll find it. It’s a day that’s been set apart.
Until very recently I thought of Sundays as one more day in the chain. We went to church in the morning and got to the to-do list in the afternoon. We caught up on everything left undone from Saturday, and I especially used the day to catch up on work. Thankfully, when my business partner and I started our interior design company and came up with our list of values, we both agreed that client meetings and emails are off limits on Sundays. But I still found myself using the day to shop for clients or prepare presentation boards. When you’re trying to juggle being a full-time stay-at-home-mom and also a full-time business owner, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in a day.
As is true of most wonderful gifts from the Lord, I wasn’t expecting a revelation about Sundays. No righteousness of my own led me to find it—not even close! I simply started to feel an internal rebellion against working on Sunday. It finally dawned on me that, for all of us, the day needed to be set apart. My mind needed rest. My body needed rest. And my family needed me present.
Around the same time, we started babysitting for a good friend after church every other Sunday. I started making baked goods so that, when they came to pick him up, they’d be enticed to stay awhile and hang out over a brownie and a cup of coffee. The days became so leisurely! Rather than pulling out my computer at 1 o’clock to work, I was straightening up the family room, enjoying baking in my kitchen, and preparing for an afternoon of sitting, talking, and watching the kids play. How good it is to have friends who change your priorities. If only I had been that attentive to the family I live with!
I decided I would continue to make a treat for my family even on the “off” weeks when I wasn’t expecting friends. I made milkshakes, lemonade, strawberry shortcake...whatever came to mind. Even though I was enjoying our new tradition, I didn’t realize what an impact it was making on everyone else until my first-grade daughter had to write a persuasive paper for Mother’s Day entitled, “Why My Mom is the Best Mom.” One of her persuasive points was, “My mom makes us a treat every Sunday!”
And now I make them a treat every Sunday. It dawned on me that this was a simple thing I could do to mark the day, to slow it down, and to give it some weight and significance in my kids’ lives. I don’t want to go to either extreme of legalism or hedonism on Sundays. I just want it to be special. To be holy, set apart. Restful. Joyful. “Sunday Treats” became our little way of doing that.
I can think of a couple of my mama friends, whose sweet babies have several food allergies, reading this post. And instead of feeling excited to whip up a strawberry shortcake this weekend, their hearts are heavy with the exhaustion of laboring over daily meals and snacks! Can I just encourage you that a “treat” does not have to equal food? There are a lot of things you can do to make Sunday special. A date with mom, a family game every week, a walk or a beautiful drive. You could do a movie night on Sundays, or extra snuggles at bedtime. Whatever would be a “treat” to your family that marks the day.
Much of our job as parents today is trying to navigate the culture we live in. We have to find the balance of being “in the world but not of it.” The simplest things, woven into our routine, can impact our kids’ love for the Lord in meaningful ways. Sundays are a gift, given for us to pause and enjoy all the good things he has made.