Sabbatical Year

My mom passed away one year ago. Suddenly, shockingly she was gone. Within hours of her death I was on a plane to Houston, mercifully sitting in the first class front row window seat. Staring out at the snow-covered Rockies my tears fell and my heart cried out to God. Why? What the hell? What happened? O God – have mercy.

I was my mom’s executrix, responsible to ensure that her bills were paid, her home was sold, and her estate was fairly distributed. The deep weight of grief wove through all my decisions. My brothers, sister-in-law and I devoted ourselves to caring well for what my mom had loved and valued, all the while feeling that numbing disbelief that she was gone.

At the same time I was finishing my doctorate, working full-time and raising two young adult daughters. I began to feel two dimensional; externally giving and pouring into others while wasting away on the inside. Without reserves, I was struggling to keep focused.

Early this past December I got into my car after a long day at work. I sat there for a moment and heard an almost audible voice say, “It’s time to leave. It’s time to resign.” I was shocked. What? I then heard, “Go home and write your resignation letter.” And so I did.

As I waited and prayed about whether or not I had heard correctly, I remembered that I had been praying for a long time that God would give me a year off. Time to rest, to write, to recover from multiple layers of grief and loss. Was this what God was offering me? Now?

In the end, after much prayer and discernment with my community, I resigned from my job. This week, the first anniversary of my mother’s death, my 12-month sabbatical begins. I am utterly grateful to God for answering my prayer, for inviting me into a season of rest and recovery. I do not know what this year ahead will bring. I only know that God has set it aside for us to travel together.

As I write this, tears come again to my eyes. I miss my mom. I am weary to the depths of me. I struggle to hope. I am conscious that I am beginning this year trusting in God’s mercy and grace, fully aware of my utter weakness and humanity. It is enough today to recognize that the journey has begun.

“I put my trust in Your mercy; my heart is joyful because of Your saving help.” Psalm 13


4 thoughts on “Sabbatical Year

  1. You have put your faith in God to embark on this new journey. I pray you will embrace it with your whole heart, continuing to trust where He leads you.

    You will continue to miss your mother, when you hear a beautiful piece of music she would have loved, when you imagine the way she would have phrased a reply to a comment, or how she wrote down her family histories that will be sorely missed by all who read, or when you think how she might have responded to your pain. Hold her close and treasure her and listen for her in God’s words.

    May you find peace and comfort and joy, my sister/friend. I love you.

    1. Martha, thank you for your encouragement as I pondered my decision to sabbath for a year. Your words about missing my mom come from your own journey of grief and healing with your mom. I am grateful for your understanding and wisdom. Love you!

  2. Mary my dear friend….. I so resonate with where you are at and love how you are able to hear God even when it may not make sense. But it does…. it makes perfect sense! When your eyes and ears are on the only one who knows you and knows what you need and when you need it. May He richly bless you in this year of rest and recovery…… (I am so jealous… but I do believe my time is coming too). I love you dearly!

    1. Debbie, thank you for your lovely words. I hope that soon you, too, will have a sabbatical year! I also hope to visit you soon – once the pass settles down again. Love you!

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