“Meternity” leave and our desperate need for Sabbath

Erica Schemper

Erica Schemper
May 3, 2016

The dust-up over Meghann Foye’s call for "meternity" leave reminds us that we're all created to rest.

May 3, 2016

Such a beautiful reflection, Erica. Sadly, I think it's one that is lost on many of us in the go-go digital/corporate world today. It occurs to me that even those organizations that still permit or encourage sabbaticals for their employees often do so with strings attached. I remember some of the professors I knew in college were implicitly expected to spend their sabbaticals writing book manuscripts or brushing up on the latest research trends in their fields. When they returned, it was expected that their endeavors away from the university would lend new prestige to the Chair they occupied for the school. Likewise, companies that permit senior employees to take sabbaticals often cite the enhanced productivity of their workers as a result of a morale boost as the primary motivation, coupled with a desire to retain their best players rather than let burnout drive them away.

I know it's hopelessly idealistic today, but I think we'd do well to remember what God did in His seventh day. He didn't take a break from his primary job to dabble in a hobby or other side endeavor. He just looked upon all He had made and set the day apart for enjoyment of the pure, unadulterated goodness of it. What if our own sabbaticals were just that--invitations to NOT work but to instead revel in the beauty and goodness of our God?

May 3, 2016

Thanks, Erica, for bringing the issue around to the notion of sabbath and sabbatical. As a pastor, I have the opportunity to take a sabbatical, and, sadly, outside of a 2-week sabbatical 2 years ago, I have allowed that benefit to slide. I want to take issue, though, with your notion that white, educated, and professional people have "privilege." It seems that you have bought into the media's lie that anyone with money or an education is privileged, as though they didn't earn it or deserve it. God never treats us fairly, at least as our culture has defined fair. God gives each of us different gifts and different lots in life. The only "privilege" we have is that we belong to our Savior, Jesus Christ. No doubt, those with less struggle more, but it's not for a lack of "privilege." Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

Erica Schemper
May 3, 2016

In Reply to Drew (comment #28175)
Drew, when I review the story of my life, my husband and I are not in the position we are today (a family that can survive on one income in an incredibly expensive area, etc.) simply because of hard work. Both of us were born into families that had several generations of college graduates. We grew up in home with books, and music lessons, and able to attend great schools. We are both white, we are both fairly attractive, and tall. When people see us, they make assumptions about us and our backgrounds based on how we look (we are both very white.)

We both grew up with two parents married to each other. We both went to an incredible (and not inexpensive) college, and we were able to afford it not because our parents were incredibly wealthy, but because we came from families that knew how to fill out a FAFSA form. My husband is in the career field he is in because he knew the right people. We live in the neighborhood and house we live in because we know the right people.

I was born into privilege, through no hard work of my own. There's just no way around it. I don't know what your story is, but for me, this is definitely true.

Julie Craig
May 3, 2016

With all due respect, having been given a sabbatical, and allowing it to "slide" is pretty much the definition of privilege.

Doug Vande Griend
May 10, 2016

Sometimes I wish we could all do a bit of time traveling and see how much more tired the human population was, in general, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 1000 years ago, and how much less we had to show for our far more tiring work after putting in twice times (or more) the work effort and hours than any of us do now.

My sense, after observing for over a half-century, is that people tend to complain about how much they have to do and how tired they are, regardless of how much they have to do and how tired they are. I suspect even the Kardashians complain about it.

Ironically, it is sometimes the very rich who more work far too much -- who really need to take more sabbath time at the price of income -- and the very poor who have more Sabbath than what is good for them.

All in all, the concept of a sabbath is good, and for those of us who choose to take advantage, there is one day of it every week. In fact, many of us get two sabbath days a week, Saturday and Sunday, and most of us get to work a ridiculously few hours every week (compared to other people going back into history), and within families, only a fraction (of family members) have to actually work (again, compared to other people going back into history) -- the rest get to go to school, or take care of small children, or just do nothing for most of the day, most days. And then lots of us get to go on vacations as well.

Sometimes, I think most of us take too much Sabbath rest, although not constructively. Of course, it varies a lot by individual.

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