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Establishing a Cyber Sabbath

by guest blogger Debora Coty



“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work . . .” (Exodus 20:8-11 NIV).


Okay, ‘fess up: How many times a day do you check your e-mail?

a. 1 b. 3 c. 6 d. 8 or more


What percentage of an average day do you spend in front of a monitor?

a. 10% or less b. 25% c.50% d. 75% or more


When was the last 24-hour period you went without turning on your computer?

a. yesterday b. last month c. last year d. never


When I worked at McDonalds as a teenager, I got so overdosed with the smells and sight of fast food that when I was off duty, the last thing I wanted was a burger or fries.


The writing profession doesn’t work that way. The more we write, the more we want to write; the more we need to write. It’s an addiction. We’re driven to “just finish this chapter,” “edit that synopsis one more time,” or “get a head start on next month’s writing quota.”


Part-time writers probably have a harder time fighting the cyber-junkie syndrome than full-timers. Those who have “regular” employment must fit writing time in whenever and wherever they can, whether it’s 3 a.m. or in the middle of Junior’s soccer match, whereas those whose “job” is writing are usually able to establish some sort of schedule. But both struggle with literary addiction insipidly taking over their life.


Work evolves into not just five days a week, but gradually six, then seven. The “I’ll only be a few more minutes” we tell our kids turns into two hours. They finally give up and find someone else to pay attention to them. Before we know it, they’ll be out of the house and will have unequivocally learned the lesson we taught them – that Mom or Dad (or both) would rather spend time with a machine than with them.


Is this the legacy we want to leave behind? Is our primary goal to honor God or to

become an honored writer? If we consider our priorities, in order of importance, God, family, friends, and work, how can we allow the last on the list to creep up and control the rest?


I realized with a shock that this was the road I was inadvertently traveling when my young daughter focused her liquid brown eyes on my back one day while I was typing. I felt her presence before I even saw her. I involuntarily shuddered as she muttered with undisguised contempt, “I hate that computer!”


My desire to express myself, to be productive, to meet deadlines, had eclipsed the responsibilities entrusted to me by my heavenly Father. My precious, limited time on earth was being consumed to the point of neglecting the truly important things—the beloved people—in my life.



That’s when I first understood the need for a Cyber Sabbath: A full day each week to unplug the computer and fully focus on the faces and real life tasks before me. No e-mail. No writing assignments. Not even one Google. Just rest from cyber world, in the same way God took a day to rest after creating our world.


How to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat? Planning is the key. It doesn’t

necessarily have to be on Sunday, but it should be a day that corresponds with the needs and availability of our families.


Each Monday, I study my calendar of scheduled events and earmark my Cyber Sabbath for that week. It can be observed the same day each week, but parents of young children may prefer flexibility. (Just beware of becoming too flexible; I’ve found if I sneak a cyber peek just once or twice during my Cyber Sabbath, it becomes a habit, weakening my resolve and ruining my commitment.)


For writers, e-mail is a life-link to editors, publishers, and agencies essential to our trade. Since most businesses close on weekends, Saturdays or Sundays would be the logical choice as a Cyber Sabbath to avoid missing important career correspondence. And of course, observing the Lord’s Day as our Cyber Sabbath creates an atmosphere of complete rest and respect for the One who blessed us with our writing talent in the first place.


Prayer: Lord, help us to honor you by honoring your directive to observe a day of rest in which to regroup, refocus, and refresh, not just in our spiritual lives, but our professional lives as well.


“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right; whatever is pure, whatever is lovely . . . let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).


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Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 30 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with nearly 1.5 million books sold in multiple languages worldwide. She's been involved with the Southern Christian Writers Conference as a keynote presenter at the 2020 annual workshop.


Join Deb’s community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com .

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