Time-Out Chairs

Middle eastern man in reflection.

Listen to Your Mind, Your Soul, Your Body

by Eric Elkin

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters . . .
— Psalm 23:2

When our children were little, we used to put them in a time-out chair when they were misbehaving. This approach is nothing unique to our family. Most parents have some form of punishment where a child spends time alone to cool off. When Peggy first started implementing the time-out chair approach, I thought it weak. But, it was amazingly effective in calming our children down.

The time-out chair became so useful, my son started putting himself in it when upset. However, he didn’t necessarily do it when he was in trouble, but when he was frustrated. When he was five years old, he would tell us that he was having trouble and needed to sit down for a minute. Then he would find a chair, sit down, and think through his problem.

Five minutes later, he would come back a new person ready to tackle any issue. As a parent, I was amazed he was able to realize this about himself.

It was funny watching him grow up into this time-out chair process. When he got older, it was no longer necessary to find a chair. Instead, he would let us know he didn’t want to talk and needed some alone time. Then he would excuse himself and find a place to think. While it did not prevent him from losing his temper, it was always an effective tool for managing his anxiety, anger, and frustrations.

I wonder if he still employs this practice as an adult. It would be wonderful if he did, I know it works. Actually, it would be a good discipline for most of us to use. The brightest minds in psychology and religion will tell you rest, meditation, Sabbath, fasting whatever you choose is essential for clarity, peace, and understanding. The evidence for it is overwhelming.

In Psalm 23, the psalmist says the Lord “makes me lie down.” This statement is incredibly true. No, a giant hand will not descend from the sky and set you down. Nor will the Lord put you in a time-out chair. Your body, the one God gave you and genetically wired a certain way, will tell you to lie down. Even when your busy schedule tries to silence your body and mind, they will let you know; it is time to rest and reflect.

Your only job is to listen when they are speaking to you.

Click to read: Psalm 23

Reflection Questions:

  • When was a time your body told you to lie down?
  • How long did it take for you to listen?
  • What discipline do you use to find spiritual rest?
  • Where is a place you find rest?

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