I Sometimes Wish Adults Had Time Outs!

Wouldn’t life be simpler if we could all take a time out when life got crazy? I’m not even talking about a day off or a week of vacation. Just ten minutes to chill, have a momentary melt down or to just let off some steam – away from onlookers. I bet the clerks at WalMart would love the opportunity to have a ‘time out’ corner to retreat to during a hectic holiday event. School teachers! Wouldn’t it be a blessing for teachers to have a safe place, maybe a padded room or a sound-proof booth, where they could relieve some of their pent up frustration over a non-compliant child or a parent who is quick to judge. What a different world we would live in if we all had a safe place to regroup when life just isn’t going as smoothly as we had hoped!

After all, we give our kids the gift of time outs – even though they don’t know it is a gift! When kids whine, throw mini-tantrums or roll their eyes in disrespect, a time out is a great place to visit. Recently, I had to put one of my grandkids in time out for rolling their eyes at me - and smirking – as I was trying to address a behavior issue. After sitting in time out for a while, I asked the offender if they were ready to talk things through. Their response was a nonchalant, “Na.” So, time out continued. The minutes ticked by with no apology or request to change their status. After 30 minutes or so passed by, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t even remember what the original offense was that caused the rolling eyes. Oh my! How was I going to work through this one? Another five minutes passed by before there was any interest shown in reconciliation and release.

As we began our discussion again I watched for any hint of a smirk, but their attitude had changed from arrogant to humble. I made comment to the fact that rolling one’s eyes at someone, adult or child, was not respectful. They agreed. I then confessed that I had a problem - I couldn’t remember what caused the time out in the first place. (I was thankful I didn’t bust out in laughter at that moment!) I kept a straight face, and my grandchild reminded me kindly what they had done wrong. Whew! We made it. I was able to be the responsible adult and they had some quiet time to come to grips with their misdeed. We were both able to be respectful to each other and had a good conversation together. Then, we both went on with life.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our confrontations in life would go that smoothly? Hmmm…do you have someone you’d love to put into time out? Ok, ok. I’d better not tempt you to go down that unhealthy path. My point is that I really would love to be able to have honest and frank dialogue with individuals that don’t agree with my point of view or who have a level of disrespect for me at a given moment. I haven’t caught anyone rolling their eyes at me (except my grandchild), but I definitely know I’ve not always made everyone around me happy.

I hate disappointing people. Church family, employers, my husband, my parents, my children, my grandchildren and my friends. I find no pleasure in being the ‘bad guy’ or the voice of reason. At times, I dread having to say ‘No.’ I’m saddened when misunderstood. I feel betrayed when individuals don’t have the courage (or the interest) to ask me why I chose a particular path to take, but simply start rumors or publicly question my motives. It’s in those times we likely both could use a time out. In my dream world a gentle, honest dialogue would take place soon after the emotions have calmed down. 

There are definitely days, moments and situations when I have been able to enjoy reconciliation or simple clarification. Trying to see something from another person’s point of view is always beneficial. Giving the benefit of the doubt to those who have hurt us doesn't come easily. Listening, really listening, can challenge our sense of pride and requires a tremendous amount of self-control. Considering others ‘better than ourselves’ – the definition of humility - is hard work. But, we don’t have to do it all alone. We have the Holy Spirit to give us the power to control our minds, emotions and actions. He can also give us the desire to see things from the perspective of others while gaining a broader understanding of the situation.

Working through these relationship issues takes a lot of prayer, patience and grace. The next time I find myself needing a ‘time out’ – for me or for another - I pray that I can humbly submit to those in authority over me, respectfully speak to those who I must confront or lovingly engage with the one who has hurt me.    

Romans 12 
(3) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (9) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (10) Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.(11) Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (12) Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (16a) Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud. (17) Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. (18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (19a) Do not take revenge, my dear friends. (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.



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