Sundays are hard around here.
Sundays are hard for most pastors.
One Sunday, after service, someone asked us what we were doing for lunch and we quickly responded ‘We are going out to eat, it’s an ‘I don’t care Sunday’. They thought it was funny. We were serious. This mindset had been building for some time and it soon became more of a necessity than a luxury. Most people go out to eat on Sunday. It is a time of fellowship. It is a time to relax instead of cooking. Restaurants are busy and waiters and waitresses are hoping for good tips.
We normally do not eat out, it just isn’t in the budget, but we found our selves racing to the nearest fast food place or pizza, or our favorite local diner for patty melts (Reuben for me) and soup and blowing our eating out budget in the first week of the month. It had become a coping mechanism. We were in survival mode and this was a way to make it through the afternoon.
Sundays for us are hard. We are exhausted. We are overwhelmed. We are at the end of our work week and most weeks we have not had a time to rest. Sundays are not a day of rest for us as they are for most people. We got to the point where we needed an escape that eating out was it.
In and of itself, eating out is not a bad thing, but for us it had become something that was an indication of a deeper problem. We build ourselves up every week for Sunday, that is what we are working towards with sermon prepping, praying, reading, and all the rest. By the time Sunday afternoon comes around we, Bill especially,are completely drained emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We started relying on food for comfort during the couple hours off that Bill has on Sunday afternoons before he goes to teach the youth at another church.
The root of the problem is that we do not feel refreshed. We ‘work’ on Sundays and worship looks different for us than for most people. It is wonderful, but we are often drained. We discovered that eating out, most of the time, truly was a life saver. We just could not seem to manage cooking after everything was said and done.
Our bodies were hungry and our souls were hungrier. We worship the Lord at church, but we cannot completely allow ourselves to rest in His presence because there are so many distractions that come in the way. We must learn to let go and let God fill us while we are at service, while we are at ‘work’. We cannot control every aspect of service, nor do we want to, and the more we submit to Christ, the more we are filled with His grace.
A secondary problem is pride. I mean, we have put all of this time and effort into the sermon and children’s church and people, we need a break and we should just get something to eat because we deserve it, right? We don’t deserve it.
We don’t deserve anything.
We have done nothing more than obey the Lord and He has supplied what we needed for that time. We complain and grumble at the Lord, while we rely on our own strength to get us through. We do need breaks, and rest, and refreshment. We do not need it because we deserve it. We have a problem when we get to the point that we say, ‘I do not care’, because we should care and because God cares that we rely on His grace and His grace is sufficient.
Perhaps we should work on our language. Perhaps, instead of ‘I don’t care Sundays’ it should be, ‘I do care Sundays’. Perhaps, in our exhaustion, we should thank the Lord for using us and for sustaining us and ask that He help us to hold on a little longer. Perhaps we should rest in His faithfulness. Perhaps we should be prepared with comfort food ready in the crock pot, so we can eat and rest without eating out. Perhaps we should enforce and guard a mandatory rest time, even if brief, in the afternoon.
Perhaps we should occasionally order a sandwich and take a small nap and feed our bodies what it needs, and not feel guilty for that, but then feed our spirit the nourishment that it needs.
Sundays are hard and always will be, but we don’t need to stuff our faces and blow our budget to ‘cope’. Whether we chose to stay in or eat out should not be determined by our desire to cope, rather should be motivated by our thankfulness in the calling and provisions that we have been given.
The next time you hear us say, ”It is an ‘I don’t care Sunday”, tell us that we should care and thank the Lord with us that it is through His grace that we can be truly satisfied. Then you can offer to buy Bill a patty melt, I am sure he will not turn you down.