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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Need a Time Out?

The corner of the room was very familiar.

Two walls came together with a vertical line that went from floor to ceiling. I often sat in my chair facing the corner of those two walls. My eyes stared at that line. Glancing up and down, somehow distracted me from the clock that appeared broken.

I still have 55-minutes to sit here; I moaned inwardly. I knew that if I voiced my complaint, there would be an additional 30-minutes added to what seemed to be a broken clock.

At 4-foot eleven inches, my misbehavior was no match for Mom.

One warning was familiar and gracious. Two notices were rare but merciful. As a young boy, I surmised Mom couldn’t count past two. A third warning didn’t exist with her.

I quickly learned that “I’m sorry,” “I won’t do it again,” “It’s unfair,” or “everyone else gets to do _________” [fill in the blank], did not influence Mom. No matter how much I argued, complained, or insisted on my “rights,” there would be no reprieve from my “Time Out.”

There was no escaping Mom’s “Time Outs.”

My best attempts to use the actions of others to justify my behavior or to play victim would release me from Mom’s discipline. She understood: Correcting my behavior was essential, not only for me but also for the well-being of others.

Mom’s “Time Outs” were enforced when my behavior reflected unacceptable character.

Her faith in God and reliance on God’s word allowed her to see the value of discipline (correction).

“Discipline your son, for there is hope…”[1]
“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest…”[2]

If Mom were alive today, she would be advocating for a “National Time Out!” She would be sending all of us to a chair facing the wall.

We cannot escape the images of “defective character.” Lying, cheating, stealing, misogyny, racism, violence, hatred, name-calling, and moral negligence are a shortlist of inappropriate behavior we observe every day — from leaders to laity alike.

Yes, I’m tired of the scarcity of moral integrity. It bothers me to see acts of violence and the never-ceasing “blame game” that continually wound us.

But I’m also aware that a “National Time Out” begins with me.

An honorable character requires introspection and correction. The Psalmist asks God:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts![3]” [Emphasis mine]

As long as I can point out “your” character inadequacy, I don’t have time to look at mine. That’s why a “Time Out” is essential: It forces me to be alone with no distractions to examine my behavior, not yours.

“Time Outs” were never enjoyable for me as a boy. Not one time did I ever say: Great! I get to have a “Time Out.” It was more enjoyable being with my friends than thinking about my behavior.

On more than one occasion, as I sat in the corner of the room, staring blankly at that vertical line, I viewed myself as a “victim.” It’s unfair. This punishment is abuse and I don’t deserve this treatment. But I knew there would be no reprieve from that chair until I acknowledged my misstep and asked forgiveness.

Hebrews 12:11 reminds us: “For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Mom never saw me as a victim. She saw potential in my life that I could not see. She recognized that allowing misbehavior to continue without correction was not loving.

Our Nation needs a “Time Out.”

Today, I willingly self-impose a “Time Out” for me. With the Psalmist I’m praying:

“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life” - Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message).

Care to join me in a “Time Out?”


[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Pr 19:18.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Pr 29:17.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 139:23.

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