The Lord has been nudging me lately to make some small refinements to my Sabbath Day observance.
Small refinements are small, subtle, seemingly insignificant tweaks or adjustments, but they can have big, bold, significant impact.
I pushed the promptings away for several months because they seemed so small and insignificant and really not that big of deal. But on the other hand, they were kind of a big deal to how my week got started, so I wasn’t really willing to let my habits go. I rationalized that God didn’t really care that much anyway. He is a loving, merciful God– not an uptight stickler, after all.
Despite my efforts to ignore them, the nudgings gently continued. I remembered that how I keep the commandments isn’t about God’s character, but about mine. And if I knew better, then I should do better.
I decided to act on my thoughts and make some changes to my Sabbath Day observance:
First, I stopped doing any laundry on Sunday.
Laundry was not an all day event or a long standing habit. In fact, I never used to do laundry on Sunday. It was always a Monday thing for me, but as my family got bigger and I got busier, I began to start a load Sunday night to get a good jump start for Monday morning. One load worked its way in to two loads and sometimes three. I rationalized that the Sabbath really only goes until 8:00 pm anyway. I was only doing towels so the folding was pretty easy, and the kids weren’t involved at all.
I knew this behavior wasn’t consistent with my belief that God will provide when you follow his commandments — meaning God would help me make the time during the week for laundry if I would just give him His day. But sometimes it’s easier to believe something in theory rather than in practice.
I wanted to exercise Faith again, so I made a small refinement, and I stopped doing even the smallest bit of laundry on Sunday. I don’t even throw in a load Sunday night to move to the dryer Monday morning. I had to make adjustments to the rest of my week, but now I don’t think about laundry at all on the Sabbath. It feels better this way.
Second, I stopped meal planning on Sunday.
I planned my meals on Sunday because I went to the store on Mondays, and I wanted to have everything all ready to go. But a Facebook post from my brother got me thinking. He said, “…some people who don’t shop on the Sabbath have no problem perusing the ads and planning their purchases on the Sabbath. Others who would never walk into a store on the Sabbath don’t see any problem with making an online purchase on the holy day.” He was being too nit picky or was he? Hmmm…
After wrestling with the seemingly strictness of it all, I realized he was on to something. And it’s not that meal planning is wrong. It’s about where your mind and heart are on the Sabbath. My focus on Sunday wasn’t on worshipping the Savior, but planning for the next week.
So I moved my meal planning to Monday mornings. I no longer think about what I am going to make my family for dinner the rest of the week because that’s anything but “restful.”
Third, I stay in a dress all day.
A few years back when I was Young Women’s President I read “For The Strength of Youth” pamphlet and it said something to the effect, “Your dress on the Sabbath before and after church should reflect your reverence for the day.” I personally interpreted that to mean “stay in a dress all day” and so from that day on I stayed in a dress all day Sunday for many years. But over the last couple of months, I had started to slack.
The new “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet does not have that same line in it, so I took its omission as a permission to put my sweats back on. My husband changes into regular clothes and so does most of my family, and they are good people. It’s not hard, fast doctrine to stay in a dress anyway. Again, I rationalized and told myself that what I wear on Sunday after church does not matter.
But in my heart, I understood the principle of reverence for the day and regardless of what was written down in a pamphlet I knew my personal testimony and personal inspiration that I had years ago. And if it wasn’t a big deal why was I getting nudged about it?
I believe that the Sabbath should be a different day, and a dress is a step up from what I wear during the rest of the week. It’s one way to make the day different. Also, when I stay in a dress I feel prepared to go to any meeting, home or visiting teaching, choir (if I went to choir) or back to the church for a fireside.
The solution to this nudging was to just buy some cute, comfy dresses to change into once I got home from church. I bought a dress or two that would help me keep my commitment to myself. Now it’s actually fun to stay in a dress all day, and I do feel like the day is more special than any other.
I don’t know where you are, but the Lord wanted me to make small refinements in my Sabbath day observance. He taught me little by little and let me know where I could improve. He knew where and when I was ready to grow. But He also knows when I’m doing the best that I can and when what I am doing is enough. He doesn’t ask our testimony to be where someone else’s is. He doesn’t ask my small refinements to be your small refinements. But I do think He wants us to be asking and willing to change in any way he personally nudges us. I am sure I have more small refinements ahead as I am willing to listen to more nudgings.
I’ll sign off with a quote from Elder Randall K. Bennett that I heard yesterday morning that supports and encourages my small refinements:
“Whenever we willingly act with faith in Jesus Christ and take another step, especially an uncomfortable step requiring change or repentance, we are blessed with strength. I testify that the Lord will guide us to—and through —our next steps. He will more than match our efforts with His power if we are willing to keep trying, repenting, and moving forward with faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”