About Our Guest Host:
You can find Kyra Joy and follow her writing at kyrajoycraig.com where she offers encouragement to live with joy and contentment even in the deep valleys of life. She sees both beauty and sorrow as she lives with Cerebral Palsy. It’s not easy, however, she is on a mission to learn and teach ways to live a more spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy life regardless of limitations. You can find her somewhere drinking a strong cup of French Roast coffee.
Download her guide to host people with Special Needs here.
When a little green square on Instagram informed me people with Cerebral Palsy spend three to five times more energy than their able-bodied counterparts doing routine tasks, my jaw dropped. There was a long sigh of relief, understanding, and knowing.
“Well, that’s why I’m so exhausted,” I thought to myself.
That was early March 2020.
I lived as if I used the same amount of energy as my friends and family during the week. Then, I would beat myself up when I watched four Hallmark movies in a row on a Sunday. The truth is I was running on fumes physically. I was trying to keep pace.
I was a faithful church goer. I loved church. I read the Bible and lead ministries during the week. However, I don’t think I knew how to rest in God.
Go. Go. Go. Crash.
The first and only time I observed a twenty-four-hour sabbath was when I attended a two-week summer program hosted by my college missionary organization. There were about twelve of us. The leaders made us a really nice sit-down dinner with candles. We sang hymns and recited a psalm together at the table. We had long, meaningful, intentional conversations. We lingered. We enjoyed. We had a light breakfast before worship. After church, we went to a pastor’s home where we had another long meal. What happened after that was special. We played board games and ping pong for the whole afternoon in the basement. Two of my friends played a four-hour game of chess. Someone took a nap. It was pure enjoyment. We connected with each other, worshipped God, ate really good food, rested, and played. This was in August 2000.
We all know what happened in the middle of March 2020. Church was suddenly on a screen. I was working from home during the week. I started to recover and catch my breath. I started to read books on Sabbath and listen to podcasts on the topic. I needed to make my own schedule to keep sane. I needed to re-imagine what my week looked like. There was no more leaving for work and coming home for lunch. I was living, working, and resting in the same space.
It turns out that a scheduled day of intentional meals, rest, and play changed my life. I had time to really read books for the first time since college. I went from going to church to studying the Bible with two women. I walked. The painful effects of CP started to subside. I lost weight.
When the lockdown of 2020 ended, my rule was not to go back to the busyness of life just because it was expected. I made a promise to myself to do things that restored me as well as rested my body for an entire day.
Enter sabbath rest.
If you are living with a disability or chronic condition, this is your permission slip to build in sabbath to your week. If it takes people with physical disabilities more energy than able-bodied people to talk, walk, or eat without gagging, we probably need more time to rest as well.
I love how God built in limitations into the sabbath command. Work hard for six days, however, rest comes on the seventh. He built our bodies with limits so that we could rest and depend on Him.
If you are raising a child with special needs, consider declaring a goal free day. So many kids use “leisure activities” like games and crafts in OT and PT. Achieving their therapy goals is their work. They labor. They labor hard. Sabbath can be restful for your child if they don’t have to be “on.”
Allow them to relax. Yes, it may be louder. Find an ADA compliant playground nearby and just let the kids enjoy. Children with sensory differences might not do well with a fancy restaurant or a formal dining room. Ask them what would be joyful and restful to them. Get creative with seating and location. I understand that a lot of us were raised to dress up on Sundays in reverence to God, however, if scratchy clothes distract your child and causes them not to participate in worship, it is time to reconsider the attire. Some churches will state on their websites about clothing like “What should I wear? We are not fussy about what we wear – come casual or dressed up. Be comfortable – we care more about you than your clothes.”
Practicing sabbath created room in my life for restoration, healing, and a quiet dependence on the One who formed me. He knows that left to myself, I would burnout. Sabbath drew me closer to God and restored my broken body and weary soul.
I pray it does the same for you.