Posted: 5/17/17 at 9:30am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Germans seem to live for their summer month-long vacations. Most Americans live for their weekends. So how important is the concept of getting off for 52 weekends a year? If you were to no longer get weekends off (regardless of whether it occurs on Saturday and Sunday), how would that affect your life?
Weekends have become a major part of our culture and lives, so much so that Wednesday now has the nickname of “Hump Day,” since from then on it’s all downhill until the weekend. How stressed would you become if you had to work six or seven days a week, with no weekend, week after week? How would it affect your life? What events would be dropped from your life if you didn’t have two days off to rest and rejuvenate for the next workweek? The anagram TGIF wouldn’t exist if the weekend did not start at 5 p.m. on Friday for so many people.
Many people assume that all American workers get two days a week off—a weekend. However, people working in many occupations do not get a weekend. Many small business owners cannot take a weekend off, since there is no one to manage the store when they are gone. Owners of many restaurants work six or seven days a week, as do many pastors and also doctors doing their residencies. Where numbers of police officers are limited, they are on call, even on their days off. It’s the same for many emergency workers, doctors, hospice workers, firefighters, and many others.
The “Thank God it’s Friday” slogan kind of says it all. None of us are superman or superwoman. We all have a need for a Sabbath (a day of rest) for physical rest and renewal. We also have a need for emotional and mental renewal, and in particular we have a need for spiritual renewal each week. That’s one of the things attending church provides us.
In the Creation account in Genesis 2:2–3 (NLT): “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
It seems strange to read that God rested on the 7th day (e.g., Saturday). Did God need to rest because He was tired? No. He rested to establish a pattern for us to follow. It is humans, and our human makeup, that require rest, recharging, and renewal before starting a new week.
Rest and renewal are needed in our whole system. Physical rest is vital to emotional and mental health, and work is vital too. Anyone who works in the human care-giving professions realizes firsthand that such “work” drains the person on every level.
When people go a week or more without rest they become stressed, their coping powers are reduced, and their efficiency decreases. This fatigue effects one’s physical stamina, mental functioning, and emotional stability.
Any job that carries a lot of responsibility and decision making is also taxing, and the way to stay at a higher level of functioning is to take at least a day each week to rest. A two-day break is even better. Rest does not need to be total inactivity. Doing something not affiliated with your weekly work can be a refreshing change.
When we moved to Hungary some years ago, the weekly routine for workers was that work ended Friday afternoon. On Saturday mornings the stores were open until noon for people to purchase groceries for the weekend’s meals. But with most people having small dorm-room style refrigerators, one could not buy a lot of groceries at one time. This took some getting used to for us, but we adapted.
I remember late one Saturday morning when the hot-water knob on the kitchen sink broke in half, with the hot water running. I had to scurry out to try to find a store where I could buy something to fix the sink. It had to be a store near enough to get there before it closed. Try doing that when you don’t speak their language and they don’t speak yours!
With three minutes to spare I found a store and bought a pair of pliers to close the hot-water valve. We then waited till Monday to buy a new knob.
Weekends … who needs them? We all do!