“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
God has been speaking to me about something lately. My attitude. When I get stressed out, juggle a million things at once, or I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it, I end up reacting more than interacting. And I hate that!
When that happens, as it did about a month ago, and last week, and yesterday, and, okay, ten minutes ago, I don’t like who I become. The worst part is, I can feel it building and even though I know I should keep my mouth shut and go be a hermit until I’m rested up and more relaxed, life doesn’t stop just because I need to. So, I continue on, checking things off my list, and sometimes spewing when I would rather choose more appropriate words, with a more appropriate tone. Just knowing the right response isn’t always enough. My true character comes through when, despite knowing what I should do, I do the opposite instead.
I admire the way my husband responds to chaos. I love how he can be in the midst of a stressful situation, but takes the time to pause, refocus, and think about his response carefully before opening his mouth, no matter whom he’s talking to. It’s rarely about the situation for him but more about the person. He interacts while I react.
However, there is hope. I have a choice. If, when I make mistakes (and I will because I’m not perfect), I take the necessary action steps to rectify my attitude (whether it’s to apologize, ask forgiveness, or just admit that I was wrong to who I offended), I’m still interacting instead of reacting. It’s not the same as choosing the right response the first time, but it’s still letting Christ shine through me despite my imperfections. I know I love it when after my kids mess up (and they will because they’re human) they come to me without being prompted and apologize for what happened. I’m quick to say, “No worries,” and am happy to hit the restart button because of their sincerity and Christ-like humility.
There is another step, though, that needs to be talked about that is just as significant as the one above. Admitting your guilt and asking forgiveness is huge, but putting an action plan in place so that reacting doesn’t continue to be the “go to” emotion is equally as important. For myself, I haven’t mastered the perfect arrangement yet, but it definitely will consist of a timeout of sorts. It could mean giving myself permission to get some fresh air and a new perspective as I pray while walking to the creek and back, going into a room by myself for some one-on-one prayer (asking God how I can best handle the situation), or calling a trusted friend for five minutes to get help with that new perspective after talking to my Heavenly Father first and releasing my attitude to Him. For me, the best solution is going to involve God first and foremost. It’s only when I humble myself before Him that I can gain the necessary attitude adjustment. He helps me feel love toward others, seeing them through His eyes, and then the need to react to whatever is happening around me naturally fades away.
The solution is going to look different for every person and sometimes different for the same individual depending upon the day, but the bottom line is this. I want to give my children the example of going to God, filling up with His love, and then passing that love on through positive interactions. I don’t want them to remember me as only reacting to stress, chaos, and turmoil.
Life is going to continue to happen. Deadlines will always be there, chores will need to be repeated often, and stressful days will occasionally creep up on me, sometimes catching me by surprise. When I remember that my most important job is to fill up first with God, then everything else will fall in place and I will naturally learn to interact more and react less.