Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reactive or Effective?

I threw a spoon across the kitchen the other day.  It felt good for about two seconds and then I realized I was being an idiot.  My girls had been screaming and picking on each other all afternoon and I had reached my limit. "She's looking at me!"  "She's touching me!" "She won't leave me alone!"  "Why did you have to be born?!" Initially, I chose to stay out of it and try to let them work it out.  But it just got worse and worse and they were now pushing me to the edge.

When I finally decided to jump in and intervene, it was too late - I was an emotional volcano and I erupted with a spoon thrown across the kitchen floor while screaming at the top of my lungs "KNOCK IT OFF!".  Yeah, that was effective.  I'm so glad they were upstairs and did not see my 3-year oldish reaction.  What in the world happened anyway?!  Who was this psychopathic woman in my kitchen and where did that sweet, gentle mommy who was there a moment ago run off to?  Sure, the girls got quiet - very quiet - but I think it was because they were in shock!

Have you ever reacted to something and then really regretted how you responded?  You obviously know my answer to this question! I think it's when my emotions get all wired up and I lose my "filter" to be able to respond in a godly way.  I always regret a knee-jerk reaction - usually it's not the godly response I would prefer to have, but it feels right for about two seconds.  After the two-second window, my heart is sick and regrets creep in, along with remorse.

I think that when I'm hurt deeply, that is when I do this the most.  As I've prayed about this specifically this week, I've felt that what I'm hearing is "Be effective, not reactive".  I have been meditating on this and searching the scriptures for examples of how to be more effective in my life rather than reactive.

When I react spontaneously and without thought, it is usually out of pure adrenaline and emotion.  A reaction is so quick that unless my heart is changed completely, it will come from my human nature, not my new spiritual nature in Christ.  The key to being transformed and being able to be effective in my response is found in Romans 12:2:  "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

When I'm confronted with a big decision, if I'm emotionally injured or stirred up or even if my children have done something wrong and I need to discipline them but I'm too emotionally upset to think straight, I need to wait before reacting.  When I react in a discipline matter with my kids, it's usually reactive and not as effective a punishment as when I take the time to think, pray and seek wisdom in the matter.  When I speak before thinking when I've been upset or emotionally injured, I will inevitably say something I'll regret two seconds later.

Proverbs 15:28 says "The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words."  That's interesting, because if you read Luke 6:45 it says "...What you say flows from what is in your heart."  That means that if our heart is not being changed by Christ (transformed - by the renewing of our mind and changing how you think, which will trickle down into our heart) then our quick reactions will not be naturally good.  That is why I need to stop, think, pray and seek His response before I allow an ungodly one to erupt out of my heart.

After a heartfelt apology to my girls for my foolish reaction, we are now fine. Thank the Lord for grace!  Once everyone was calm, I was able to speak to them about their relationship with clarity and purpose.  God used my spoon-throwing reaction to remind me that if I'm in a process...and He's not finished with me yet.

Proverbs 29:11 "Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back."

Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare."

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