This is a guest post by Jenn Dubey. You can find this article in the January/February 2023 Issue 10 of Torah Sisters Magazine.
When I first started keeping Shabbat, my mind was overwhelmed. I didn’t understand how this day could be restful when so much prep and planning was required. The stress of prepping seemed to consume me at times and stole my joy. Was I doing something wrong? Why does Scripture call this day a delight? How is it possible to shut off the outside world for 24 hours? These questions ran through my mind constantly.
It took me a bit to get into my groove and really understand the blessing of Shabbat. Changing habits can be hard. I would encourage you with this: as you begin to keep this beautiful set-apart blessing of a day, know that altering your life to create this 24-hour block of rest for your Heavenly Father may be counter-cultural and initially challenging, but absolutely worth it! It is a blessing, and you will be blessed by it. I would encourage you to not focus as much on the prep as the importance of setting apart time with YHVH.
Some people who have been on this journey for a long time may say otherwise, but for me, it is more about preparing our hearts than our physical space. The idea of Sabbath should flow from the heart as a desire, not become a burdening checklist. I do believe that our physical space should also have a level of order because we are inviting our King into our home for His appointed time, but you can certainly give yourself a little grace on the busy weeks. Shabbat is not about perfection.
First, let’s consider what the Father wants from us on His appointed day. I ask myself this question when I get overwhelmed, and I believe the answer is He wants our time and attention. He wants us to enter physical and mental rest. He wants us to be renewed and refreshed.
How do we create a lifestyle that provides a level of organization to enter Shabbat peacefully, joyfully, and already a little rested? Let’s discuss some practical ways to find the blessing in Shabbat.
Know what is commanded and what is tradition. I had so many friends doing “extra” things for Shabbat that are not commanded. When I realized I didn’t have to do all those extra things, my heart was so relieved. Know what the scriptures say about Shabbat. Use scripture as your guide. If you decide you want to add traditions later, do that once you feel like you have the basics in order.
Start small & build. If you are new to keeping Shabbat, decide what the most important things to do in preparation include. For me, it was meal planning for Friday night’s Erev Shabbat dinner and food prepared for Shabbat. Sometimes I do a large crockpot meal and we eat off it all weekend. Sandwiches are a perfectly acceptable food for Shabbat. Some people will get really fancy and I am here to say, this is not a requirement.
Get a planner/organizer. Find an easy-to-use Shabbat planner or organizer to start planning the next Shabbat on Sunday. I used to try to do all my prep on Friday and it was just too much. Think of it this way, YHVH gave us 6 days to work so on the 7th we could rest. Use all six days to prep for Shabbat. I start with a few things on Wednesday, a few things on Thursday, and a few things on Friday. My best advice is to not leave a long list for Friday as that rarely works out well. Eat that elephant one bite at a time, sister!
Don’t look at everyone else. Your day can look different than someone else’s. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy the day (other than what is commanded, of course). I know families that sleep in until noon and attend an afternoon service. I know families that stay home and do Bible study together. Make the day about your family and how you best connect to YHVH. This will look different for different people.
We can have a hard time in our current culture shutting down for this 24-hour period. It is possible that in the beginning, your mind will run wild with all the things you could be doing. Breathe and allow the Father to show you that the only priority is rest. If it makes it easier, you can plan your Shabbat by plugging in when you will study, pray, and spend time with family and community. That may help you to feel a little more at ease if you have a “structured” nature. I had to do this at first! However, after a year of weekly Shabbats, I have concluded that doing nothing structured allows me to be led by the Spirit and a bit more relaxed. I have learned to be open to whatever he has for me. Now, I count down the days to Shabbat each week and look forward to entering His rest and just being in the moment. This is a marvelous concept for us today.
BE IN THE MOMENT! I pray that as you practice this extraordinary moedim, you will little by little learn to balance your week, prioritize things that please Him, and be blessed by taking part in His Shabbat.
Jenn Dubey is a wife, and mother of three grown children who lives in Michigan. Jenn is an avid golfer, hiker, and loves to mountain bike with her husband, Chad. She is the Operations Manager for a statewide Association that provides support and services to the elderly and homebound. Jenn accepted Yeshua when she was 21 and in 2011, the Father called her into obedience and she rededicated her life to him. She came into Torah in 2020 and has been hungry for Truth ever since. She currently teaches a monthly Torah study with The Rooted Kafe. She is passionate about sharing her faith and all that YHVH has revealed to her through her studies.
My goodness! I so enjoyed reading this article!
It is such an amusingly true picture of how one grows and matures in learning to guard His Shabbat!! I don’t think sister Jenn left one stone unturned here, lol.
Even though our family has been doing this for nearly a decade now and guard the Sabbath from break of day (dawn) ‘Saturday’ to break of day Day 1, I still gleaned richly from this, especially in the tip she gave about starting to prepare THROUGHOUT the week and not just Day 6! True story! lol Good tip, indeed!
Thank you, sisters Jenn (for this post) and Amy (for bringing all these kinds of helps, ideas, and encouragements to us via “Torah Sisters”).
YaH bless and keep you both … and us all, in Messiah Yahushua’s name. Amein!
Awe, thanks, sis. I truly find Shabbat a blessing and I hope my “logic” in starting early with preparation helps other busy ladies slide into Shabbat a little less stressed. We need each other on this journey. We are blessed to have so many great women to glean from. Shalom.
I love this article! We began keeping Sabbath a couple of years ago (but being honest here). We are still figuring things out as we go. This article was so helpful to me, and it confirms that at a minimum we are on the right track. This article also gave me a sense of community!
I truly value your excellent points. I’ve had many similar epiphanies. Shabbat is about doing good, resting, and relationships. Intimacy and healing with our Father and also with family and community. Beautiful.