Straight from a Paused Heart
By Lisa Elliott
When my four kids were little, I regularly put to good use, a “Time-Out” chair. It was a mommy’s helper whenever I needed to put an end to a heated situation, argument, or fight that my kids were immersed in. The chair was used to set them apart—physically and socially—while their emotions simmered.
Time-out typically only lasted for five minutes or so. But it was long enough to give them time to think about their actions, think about their words, and think about what they’d done and what they’d do once their time-out was done. It also gave me time to think about my actions, think about my words and think about what I’d do once the time-out was done.
Those five minutes of temporary pause helped prevent a more permanently damaging emotional or verbal reaction and instead, allow for a wise response to the situation. What that time-out also allowed for was a renewed perspective. One that was more objective. It pulled everyone involved out of the chaos and confusion of the situation. And it enabled them to see the situation more clearly.
A Time-Out chair wasn’t my only sanity saver. I also encouraged my kids to have a time-out in the form of a “Quiet Time”. This lull in activity was a strategic pause from routine to regroup and take a rest from stimulating activity or social interaction. Call it an intermission, or an interlude; it created breathing space and, again, did all of us a whole lot of good.
A strategic pause gives us all cause to rest, reflect, and regroup. It provides us with a change of pace. It offers us a new way of looking at things along with a different way of approaching things. It changes perspective that can otherwise get lost in the hub of busyness, the muddle of emotions, and obscured by subjectivity. Much like this unprecedented time is offering to each of us. I like to consider it as a holy pause.
There were some strategic times in history when God put a pause on things. I think of the story of Esther. God used a strategic pause/time-out to set the stage for life-altering events. In three days there were two banquets, and one sleepless night that awoke the King to catch up on some reading. The whole scene changed after some good food, a sleepless night, and a little pause to reflect.
A lot of things can happen when God puts a pause on life as we know it. Plans can change. Our thoughts toward a situation can change. Relationships can change. But most importantly, our perspective can change.
In the case that you’re too immersed in circumstances beyond your control, or head-spinning stressors, or anxious thoughts amid this unprecedented time in history to think clearly, let me help you find the right perspective.
- Take a deep breath at regular intervals throughout your day.
- Step away from your desk, your house, or your neighbourhood. Go outside or go for a walk or a drive.
- Take ten minutes to move your body and clear your head.
- Take a reprieve from some of your relationships.
- Take a hiatus from your cell phone or computer.
- Lower expectations of yourself.
- Give yourself permission to take a break from regular activity.
- Accept what you can’t change. But give yourself ample opportunity to change what you can.
- Consider your own personal needs.
- Grant yourself simple ways to experience life-giving activity such as a quick walk, a nap, or a cup of tea in the middle of the day.
There’s no doubt in my mind that God’s at work in this pandemic pause. It’s all part of His plan. He is sovereign and in control. And there are things He wants us to wake up to in the middle of the night and pay attention to in this divinely timed time-out. Pay attention to those around you. Pay attention to our reactions and responses. Pay attention to what you’re learning. Pay attention to your thoughts, actions, attitudes, and behaviour. Pay attention to your personal needs. And most of all pay attention to what God might be saying to you in this holy pause, for such a time as this.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay (Habakkuk 2:3).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org