“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”
– Leo Christopher
The phrase "time-out" has changed its' meaning over the years of my life. The once despised phrase of my youth has now - with the help of time's peculiar perspective - turned into one of my favorite things.
As a child, it represented an unwanted and (in my opinion at the time) a totally undeserved trip to one of the corner's in the kitchen. My brothers and I had to kneel there after misbehaving, giving us a dose of discipline and our mom a few minutes of reprieve from the unrelenting, constant chaos.
We were sentenced to kneel one minute per every year we were old. Kneecaps pressed to sheet vinyl floor, I reluctantly stayed put, alternating between staring at the clock and then into the gaudy bright yellow, green and orange wallpaper that only homes decorated in the 1970's offered. I remember hoping for time to play leapfrog somehow, dividing into itself to bring a quicker end to my miserable staycation.
I then grew up and had kids of my own and naturally, following footsteps and all, I designated a spot in our house for the very same reason. Our kitchen is oddly shaped and closed off, which is not ideal for keeping an eye on fussy little escape artists, so a wall in the shared living and dining room was chosen.
If our kids' broke one of the big rules like hitting, biting, full-on disrespect or name calling, they were sent to this spot for a cooling down period and time to reflect. If my memory serves, there was a lot more crying, kicking and screaming than cooled contemplation, but anyway, that was the original intent for being given a time-out. It seems they hated it even more than I once did.
Funny how things turn over with age. Now, the phrase "time-out" describes a thing I seek and desire. It is a glittery jewel of life and is welcomed with a big smile, like a dearly anticipated holiday. Wednesday: Coffee with Sarah and Cindy, Saturday: Lunch with Lori, and then, suddenly Justine spontaneously texts me: "Happy hour tonight?"
These breaks from the all-too-often punishing schedule I keep are just what I need to bring life's crazy blur back into focus. Time-outs no longer represent a form of discipline - just the opposite! But, I find I must stay disciplined to keep them a priority or many other things can elbow their way into every precious slot on my calendar and push out what is most dear and treasured: Time to rest and be richly present with those I love.
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his." Hebrews 4:9-10
Once again, the pages of scripture releases often forgotten precepts, unlocking closed gates. Rest was baked into creation and we are told not to neglect it or label it unimportant. After all, it is not merely the frosting on top, it is the flour and sugar of our days.
I am devouring this truth more and more, like a favored treat. A balmy, dusk-hour walk and cherished girl-talk with Ashley takes precedence over the useless chatter of the television. A drawn-out chess game with Ethan holds onto my time's hand as we sit together, strategizing checkmate. And, soft, peach-lit sunsets woo both Mike and I out for unfolded conversations on our back deck as we sip on basil-mint lemonade, going over the day's happenings and take the time to dream together.
Yes, I have come to quite enjoy being in time-out. In fact, I will try and find ways to put myself into them more and more because they are sweet indeed. And, they are time put to very, very good use.
Question: What is your preferred way to spend your time in time-out, and with whom?