Our Reactions to what happens around us.
Most of this week we've been at my in-laws house as my father in law is not doing well. Even in this stressful time God has been faithful to speak to me about different things as I pondered about His will for a persons life.
Many of us are familiar with Charles Swindoll's quote "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” If we believe this then it means that even with life's way of throwing curve balls at us we still have great responsibility for our outcomes based upon our reactions. The quote looks us square in the face with the reality that even with the hurts and brokeness that come as a part of life it is we who determine our ultimate victory or defeat.
I'm thankful that many times we have opportunity to compose ourselves and put on a better reaction.
Paul the apostle talked about putting things on and off. He was talking about attitudes and actions that please or displease the Lord. Thankfully he explained the Holy Spirit can renew and transform us day by day as we yield to him. Even though I came to the Lord as a child...I still find situations where my flesh rises up and my reaction is not what it should be to help a situation or a relationship. Thankfully many times my initial reaction is not in the presence of the person or persons who otherwise would get a piece of my unyielded mind. There are times when hard things need to be addressed and said...but it makes all the difference when your attitude has been cleansed of that self righteousness that only thinks of itself. Take heart that no matter how old you are in the Lord he is faithful to reign you in and to give you wisdom and calm to deal properly with any given situation.
Some of the things the Holy Spirit will talk to us about that will help us in our reactions.
Perspective: We see things from our own perspective based on our experience or knowledge concerning a situation in our life. The Spirit will often urge us to change perspective enough to see where someone's mindset is compared to ours. He will ask us to take note of what things have affected their words, actions and reactions. This doesn't mean we change our mind, but it does allow us to speak with a compassion and understanding that we wouldn't have otherwise. Sometimes I'm tempted to "fix things quick" and get things straight....but that can land a person in trouble if they bypass the Spirit's call to take a moment and ponder someones perspective. This can also come into play during a conversation....be willing to listen.
Reactions can be totally different when we choose to forgive someone who has hurt us. Maybe someone has had a bad day, perhaps they are going through strain at work or at home or a myriad of other circumstances. When we choose to be aware that not every offense is caused by mean-spiritedness we are well on our way to redirecting our reaction to a situation. There are times when someone is purposely mean...maybe they are reacting to their own hurt and loss...and it is then that we must decide whether we will allow them to pull us down with them. While we don't have to be buddy buddy in such cases...letting go of anger and the desire to pay back looses us from the trap of walking in sour attitudes and reactions.
Remember how you react effects yourself and other people.
Have you ever been in a good mood singing a song as you work only to be stopped short by someone who clouds the room with anger and a sour expression. Maybe you've been the one with the cloud hanging over your head. No one is saying that life is all a bowl of cherries....or that your every waking moment should filled with the "sound of music"...but remember you affect those around you. Take some time to allow God to speak to you when you feel that cloud. He wants to shine some sonlight into your day if you will allow Him to.
Here are some Don'ts
- Don't despair if you've blown it with your reaction...ask forgiveness and trust God to restore relationships.
- Don't assume that you are the sole blame for every situation of offense or stress. Remember just as you must yield your reactions so must others.
- Don't give up. The apostle Paul said, "I have not yet attained". I don't know about you but that sure gives me hope.