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Christian Counseling: A Spiritual Time Out for Adults

When you hear the words "time out" you may think about a child who needs to calm down and/or be disciplined. It is good to take a child out of the usual activities and sit him or her down in a chair to learn about quiet and be alone with his or her thoughts. Though adults on occasion need a time out when their emotions run high, this writing is not about that. It is about adults' need to cease from life as usual, which could easily include Sundays when the activities of daily life go on (chores and church). I can imagine some readers saying, "Uhuh, I don't have enough time to do all I am supposed to, let alone take some me time." This blog is especially for you.

It is so very easy to get caught up in the demands of necessary activities that we lose ourselves and abandon our priorities to task-oriented living. Perhaps we should reframe that and say task-oriented "bondage" because that is not living. Toil has a slow and sneaky way of tempting us and grabbing hold of us, while our adrenaline pushes us to do more and more until we are surprised by the quick passage of years and the reality of being trapped, like Marley and Scrooge in the Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol.

In the story, Marley had already died. But in a vision Scrooge saw Marley carrying the chains that he bore in life--caring for the have to's of business and not attending to the real business of caring for people. However, Scrooge was given a time out. He had the opportunity of changing his ways by visiting Christmas past, present and future. He saw the way his life started out and how he intended it to be. He was also given understanding about the realities of life in the here and now (the suffering of Tiny Tim and family). But it wasn't until he saw his own gravestone that his heart gave way to dying to his old ways, while begging for a chance to change his future. This he did by taking one step at a time in a different direction in the present--the only thing he truly possessed. His time out gave him an opportunity to reconsider whether or not he wanted to continue life as usual.

Like some of the O.T. prophets who were called into the wilderness, Jesus who withdrew to the mountains and Paul who returned to tent making, they had their time outs. What would God say to you if you took just one time out? Would you feel sad about some past dreams that never materialized? Would you be filled with insight about the realities of your present life? Would you want to change your future? Are you living the way you want? Are you living the way He wants? This is what He wants for you--"'Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'" (Matthew 11:28-30).

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