Learning to Respond
The ability to pause before we act is a way we work out experientially the Father’s Love. Like a muscle, this is a capacity that grows in your heart with practice.
When a potentially triggering event happens during the day, we have a choice to either react or respond to it. Whether it’s a coworker’s comment, your employer’s memo, a long line at the bank, or your child wanting attention, we have a split-second of time to figure out what to do about it. So do we to react or respond to it?
React is usually a quick reflex. It’s simply to counter ”act” what occurred, many times in opposition of or in reverse direction. If you accidentally touch a hot surface, you react by pulling away your hand so as to not get burned. The word respond tends to have a more positive connotation. Think of “RSVP” – it’s a request for a response. Responding typically involves more time and thought processing.
So what’s the need for distinguishing these two things? Sometimes we find ourselves reacting to something when it would be better if we had responded. Especially when we find ourselves triggered.
By the nature of a trigger – just like on a gun – we usually react. We do or say something as a natural reflex, however, many times it’s from a place of anger or woundedness. Our feelings get hurt or someone is upsetting us so we blurt out words we don’t really mean or slam doors and push things around harder than necessary. We’re trying to make a statement and let our feelings be known.
A Pause Button
But if we could pause for a second, right after the event occurs, and think about how we should respond to this rather than simply react, imagine what a difference that would make in our lives. What am I feeling here? Why am I feeling this? Say you just received an email asking you to redo a job you thought you finished well; or say your child was playing in the house and accidentally broke something. By hitting a pause button on ourselves and taking a moment to think through what we’re feeling, we probably wouldn’t return a nasty email back about the job or yell at our child about the accident. Instead we can take in the situation, sort through our emotions, find Father’s love in it, then chose to respond in a healthy way.
When we take the time to respond we think through our words and actions. We stand back objectively to look at the situation and not get caught in the middle of our emotions. By doing so, our true hearts can be expressed and clarified, as well as understanding can take place.
I would encourage you, as I am myself am encouraged in writing this, that when an event happens to us today, (especially a negative one) to try and make a choice to respond and not just react.
The world is full of a fatherless generation crying out for people that know how to experientially walk in God’s love toward them, and I want to be one of those who do.