It’s a space, a discipline, and a matter of the heart … not only for toddlers, but adults.
My husband and I shepherd our flock of three young boys, and we take lots of time outs; all five of us!
Just this morning, we had a situation where a particular pair of shorts was wanted by two boys. There was screaming, running, chasing and nasty faces. Emotions were quickly escalating and after calling for the older brother to come talk to me, I found him red-faced, teeth clenched with fists tighter than a knot.
I started to talk but quickly saw the fists still clenching and a heart that was struggling to find space to listen and accept words of instruction. Wisdom has taught me that those are signs leading up to an anger that is out of control. So I let him go take a time out to calm down.
The secret of parents giving time outs to our children is that it gives us parents the space and moments to calm down and think wisely about our next steps of discipline and/or correction. Both me and my son went our separate ways for a few moments and then came together. As we began to talk about the real issue at hand, which was a matter of my son’s heart, not the pair of shorts, he pulled the covers off of his head to tell me something.
As soon as I saw his eyes, the Spirit of the Lord prompted me to say, “There are the kind eyes that I know. Thank you for calming down.” It was a simple comment, but it made a big difference.
My son had pulled the covers off of his face to tell me something that his brother had said that offended him, but my words side-tracked his train of thought to something much more fruitful. He paused for a moment and said, “You know mom, it’s hard for me to even make a tight fist now. My body feels different.”
Well said, son. Your body feeling different is the work of the Lord, transforming your heart.
The other secret about time outs is that God commands us, as His children (young and old) to take them. He tells us to slow down, flee from evil, hold our tongue, control our body in a way that is holy … because He knows that when we are at the point of losing our control (whether physically, emotionally or verbally), we need a time out. We need to put ourselves in a place where the Holy Spirit can take over; free our body from the desires of the flesh so that we can walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:13-26 lays this out very clearly:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
I’m happy to let you know that we a