I was watching tennis on television one day and two of the best players in the world were fighting for the title. I remember it was a match worth watching; brilliant strokes, amazing serves and a great display of skill that made it difficult to predict a winner till the very end. Just when my favorite player was marching towards victory, the opponent asked for a time out. “WHAAAATTTT???? What nonsense is this? A time out at this point in the game?” These were the thoughts running through my mind.
When the match resumed, the opponent came back stronger, more focused and ultimately went on to defeat my favorite player. I remember sitting there angry and frustrated, not knowing what went wrong until I narrowed down my analysis to the time out. It was the ‘TIME OUT’ that ruined the game. But then again, think about the opponent. The ‘time out’ for him was a game changer. It is what won him the title.
In life we are constantly on the run. Making ends meet, providing for our family, doing the best we can in everything that we have committed ourselves to. Sometimes, this constant running leads to a major burn out or an outburst of frustration. We hear of so many families breaking up, relationships ending, spiritual people feeling drained, situations at work getting frustrating etc. Probably a ‘time out’ at such moments could act as our game changers.
Let us give a thought to what a TIME OUT really is. In many sports, a ‘time out’ is allowed to the teams. It can be used strategically to help the team perform better and win. In life as well, in our routine struggles and difficulties, we reach a point of confusion when we do not know the way ahead. Instead of going straight into the wall and banging our heads against it, the best solution may be to just step back and take a ‘time out’.
Take a break from work, from your daily routine; re think and reanalyze where you are going wrong or what you need to do to help yourself. Take a ‘time out’ to:
- Pray: You need this, and deep down we all know we need this. We can try to run away or be lax about our prayer life but it is when we are at our lowest that we need God the most and we need to turn to Him in prayer. As we begin to do this, we slowly start healing and mending our relationships too. It is may best to accompany prayer with reading the Bible, which is God’s own love letter to humanity
- Read: Read a motivational book, which could be something that inspires you, such as the lives of saints. They are our role models and we could learn a lot from them. Reading can relax our mind, change our perspective and help us to cope better with reality.
- Go for a retreat/ Visit the Blessed Sacrament: One of the most relaxing methods is to go on a holiday. Holidays may not necessarily be the best option to truly experience a time out. A retreat or time that you spend time with God alone before the Blessed Sacrament could be a far more effective way to return rejuvenated.
- Perform an Examination of Conscience: I think this is a good break. In the middle of a busy day, take some time off and examine your conscience. It will help you redirect your behavior and attitude and set things right instead of you slipping away. Try the Ignatian Examen.
To take a time out does not mean you are afraid of the challenge and are too weak to face it. It means you are mature enough to accept that your current way isn’t helping much and you are working on a better and more effective way to deal with the issue. To take a time out means that you are humble enough to accept that you could stumble or fail, but are also smart enough to stop, reflect, re-strategize, so as to not repeat your mistakes.
So what are you waiting for? Call for a time out and re think, re focus and re plan. After this time out, let your opponent fearfully say, “Oh No! S/He is back.“