Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post - Reacting Versus Responding

Written by Joyce Ray

Have you ever had one of those days where you were really tired, and everything – no matter how small it was – seemed to bother you? Mine was just last week. It wasn’t like anything major or out of the ordinary happened. It was a typical Monday for me. I went to the gym, went to work teaching second grade (My class was actually really well behaved that day), left school at 5:00 to pick up my mom from work, went to the chiropractor, and then stopped by the grocery store on the way home. I was tired, but in a good mood, until I got to the chiropractor’s office. They were short staffed, and the treatment that normally takes 30 minutes took almost an hour. By then I just wanted to go home, but our cats were out of food, so I figured it would be just a quick trip in and out of the store. I was wrong. The lines were long, and I chose one in which the person in front of me had vouchers that the clerk didn’t know how to ring up. This took awhile, and as my frustration mounted, I could feel the tears building behind my eyes. By the time I got home I went to my room, collapsed on my bed, and began to cry. I must have stayed that way for over 30 minutes.

As I lay on my bed I began to ask God what my problem was. In that moment I felt like such a bad Christian. I hated the way I was feeling, but I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it. It was then that God began teaching me a lesson which continued all week on being responsive versus being reactive. God tells us that in this world we are going to have troubles, but he also promises us that we can have His peace in the midst of these troubles (See John 16:33). However, we will never be able to rest in that peace He has promised us, if we continue to live in a reactive mode; living like a puppet immediately reacting to everyone and everything in the environment that pulls its strings. This knee jerk reaction is very natural and very human. It is also all around us, because we live in a world filled with reactive people. These same people are also often stressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, and depressed. You might even be one of them.

God, however, calls us to live a very different kind of life. He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (See Matthew 11:30). One of my favorite verses is found in Exodus 33:14 in which God promises that His presence will go with us and He will give us rest. In order to live in this place of rest that God has promised us, we have to quit reacting to the world around us and start responding to the love of God within us. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to be in constant communication and communion with God throughout the entire day. When God told us to pray without ceasing (See 1 Thessalonians 5:17), He meant that we should always be aware of His presence, like a best friend walking by our side all day, ready to talk to us about anything and comfort us when things just don’t seem to be going our way. I’ve found that the amount of peace that I have throughout the day is directly proportional to the amount of time that I am focused on Him.

A little later in the week God gave me the opportunity to put what He had been teaching me in practice. I had one of those days when everything really did go wrong. My class was acting up, my shoulder was hurting, unexpected chores and errands came my way, and I only got a couple of hours sleep the night before. However, if you were to ask me what kind of day I had, I would tell you that I had a fabulous day! I was more tired and more went wrong, but nothing could rob me of my peace or joy, because I was communing with God. Instead of reacting to what was going on around me, I chose to respond to the One who lives inside of me.
 As you are going through your day today, please remember that “greater is He who is within you than he who is within the world”. Keep your eyes right where they belong – on Jesus – and he will turn those mountains into mole hills and your sorrows and frustrations into joy.

To read more about Joyce Ray, click here.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)


Kathleen said...

It takes a disciplined heart, a steady gait, and a surrendered soul to wait patiently upon the Lord. Getting my soul to obey His word has been a continual struggle, but when I rest in His ways, there's no danger I'll react. Besides, my reactions are always born of some facet of fear. To respond ... now that takes an incredible does of love. Give me the latter any day (even though I still, at times, choose the former).


Mary Ann said...

I think many reactions are born of fear. I spent much of my younger years reacting because I didn't know how to trust God. I was afraid. Now I can rest in Him and respond to what He allows in my life, knowing He is in control... but like you, at times I still choose to react. I'm thankful He is so patient with us!

God bless, Kathleen! And thanks for stopping by.

Mary Ann :)


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