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When Talk of Sabbath has You in Your Feelings

By January 23, 2024January 25th, 2024No Comments4 min read

Our body is craving something that we’ve been trained by society to reject.

Jennifer Acuff

The word “resistance” is packed full of feeling. When I hear or think that word, it’s like I can feel my jaw clamp down. My teeth are gritted, my muscles contract. I don’t know if it’s because of how that word sounds, or if it’s just my experiences that are associated with it, but according to the dictionary, this might be an ideophone, or a word that elicits a specific response due to its depiction of a sensory experience. This definition doesn’t fit exactly, but that’s because the English language doesn’t have many examples of ideophones, as opposed to other languages, like many tribal and ancient languages, that are chalk full of words that can accurately express the way your body feels. A-ha! We have a problem here—a disadvantage when trying to describe how something makes us feel. 

All this talk of Sabbath has me thinking and feeling and thinking and feeling and thinking and feeling and before I know it, I can’t tell the difference between what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling. This series on Sabbath is introducing all kinds of ideas that seem both old and new at once. I sense an eagerness to jump into a lifestyle and practice that promotes rest, focused worship, mindfulness, peace, and gratitude—things that make me feel like I’m lying in a sea of jumbo marshmallows. But before I can even finish articulating those things, my mind begins the whataboutisms: commitments, expectations, limited time, productivity, opportunity, self-sustenance, fear. And before I can even discern those thoughts, I feel it in my body—the tightness, heaviness, and a feeling that I can only describe as panicked adrenaline pumping through my veins that are filled with heavy lead rather than thin blood.

The English language makes it so difficult to articulate these feelings that are both mind and body. In fact, our capitalist society thrives when we ignore the body and what it is trying to tell us. Our bodies are tools and things to be used and abused. We are not to listen to them! But talk of Sabbath has me feeling both the sea of marshmallows and the heavy lead in my veins. What is my body telling me? Perhaps this is part of the resistance. When we say we will use Sabbath to resist commodification, acquisitional society, and mindlessness, we will actually experience resistance in ways that our language might not even be able to describe. Maybe this makes it harder to keep going—because we can’t explain how it makes us feel all the time.

As we continue to talk about Sabbath, feel the resistance. Imagine you are doing a moonwalk on sandpaper. It won’t be graceful. It will feel forced. Listen to your body and try to understand how those beautiful hormones and neurotransmitters can make you feel both peaceful and anxious, confident and nervous, satisfied and burdened. Glennon Doyle and her family might have come up with the best term that they use when they’re trying to describe some anxiety around something that might be good and exciting: scited (scared-excited). Our body is craving something that we’ve been trained by society to reject. Take heart–we were made to be complex beings that can feel many things at once, so don’t feel guilty when your body and mind seem to be in conflict when talking about Sabbath. Lean in. This is resistance.

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Grace Church of Northwest Arkansas is a nondenominational community of Christ-followers committed to loving others, living out the Gospel and serving in Jesus’ name. We stand with the marginalized and welcome folks of all races, genders, and sexual orientations.

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