Reaction vs. Response

For some reason, those two words feel very differently to me. So I checked in with Merriam Webster to see what the distinction might be. I guess the difference is mainly that a response, as an action, is neutral but a reaction can be positive or negative. I don’t know. What do you think?

Definition of reaction

1athe act or process or an instance of reacting

bresistance or opposition to a force, influence, or movement especially tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy

2a response to some treatment, situation, or stimulus her stunned reaction to the news alsosuch a response expressed verbally critical reaction to the play

Definition of response

1an act of responding 

2something constituting a reply or a reaction: such as

aa verse, phrase, or word sung or said by the people or choir after or in reply to the officiant in a liturgical service

bthe activity or inhibition of previous activity of an organism or any of its parts resulting from stimulation

cthe output of a transducer or detecting device resulting from a given input

How do you respond to situations? What is your tendency? Do you rush to judgment? Collect the facts first? Are you willing to hear everyone out? Are you a “reactor” or a “responder”?

Of course, it all depends on the situation. Some do call for quick action. But for normal, everyday things that happen, do you have a tendency to be negative about whatever you are facing?

And are you happy with it?

Training ourselves to respond calmly to situations is important. Paying attention to the words that come out of our mouths is important. Along with that, habits like eye-rolling, heavy sighing, foot stomping, door slamming, needing to have the last word, and low-register grumbling are just as important to gain control of.

Here is a challenge for both you and me:

Let’s spend the next 24 hours without uttering a complaint. Will life be all rosy and full of tulips and puppy kisses? I doubt it. But we can still spend 24 hours not verbally complaining. If you really need to “complain”, write it down in a notebook and in 24 hours decide if you still need to present the complaint.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] [Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV]

Blessings to you as you consider reactions and responses!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BOXES

Complaining

It is so easy to fall into a rut with complaining but it casts a shadow on whatever the experience was, even if the problem was minor. Even “helpful suggestions for improvement” register as complaints to the other person. So be sure to exercise your mind and also come up with several positive observations to share.

Does every issue or annoyance need to be voiced?

I don’t think so.

I get it, life can be frustrating and things don’t always go smoothly. But that has always been the case. Adding fuel to the tension of the situation by eye rolling and grumping and slamming things around does not help anything work more smoothly and it opens the doors for other issues.

Honestly, some things are not worth complaining about.

And some things are.

The principle behind The Boy Who Cried Wolf comes to mind in a time like this. If you complain about everything, then people tend to turn you “off”, ignore you, or label you as immature. And when you have something important to say, they have been trained to blow you off.

Yes, there are times a complaint is warranted, but be careful lest complaining becomes a regular part of your personality emissions. It’s a habit that does not draw people in. It’s true, life is not all roses and buttercups – but, whatever your particular situation happens to be – there are people way worse off and dealing with much bigger issues and not making a huge issue out of it. Negativity might get you some action but you can compel more people into action when you choose your words and approach with care.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
    and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
    but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

2Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:21-24, NIV]

Want to address an injustice? Fight on behalf of someone who needs help. Don’t be so caught up in yourself and the inconveniences you experience that you miss the bigger picture.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow. [Isaiah 1:17, NIV]

Complaining and grumbling are habits. Bad ones. You don’t have to gloss over bad behavior but as you look for your voice, find one that speaks Truth but also can be listened to. If you intersperse a tiny bit of truth in an angry and accusatory presentation, it will be lost.

What are you fighting for?

Liz

PrayerPrompt: REACTION vs. RESPONSE

Tools

Do you have projects in mind and the tools to accomplish them but never get around to the project? My guess is that project never really moved up high enough on the priority list because even if we don’t have the right tools, we can figure out how to get a job done.

Of course, life happens and things we hadn’t even imagined can propel up the priority list in the blink of an eye. Life and circumstances are always changing and something that actually may be a priority gets pushed aside until “later” but sometimes later doesn’t come. We don’t always get to do the things we want to do.

I have come to believe that having the tools isn’t the key. Using the tools is the key. We all know of the guy who has all the big, cool tools. At first glance, you might even be envious. But if he has no time to use them, then it just seems sad. What is the point of having “all the stuff” if you can’t enjoy it?

I will admit, in certain areas of my life

(A): I have the tools;

(B): I have the knowledge of how to use them;

(C): But, I don’t have the gumption/time/energy/ability/___________ to use them, therefore

(D): I don’t have the results I want!

Owning the tools is not enough. Having the knowledge is not enough. Making the effort, etc. is not enough. It seems like there is a need for all three to even work towards the goal and even then there is no guarantee the project will be successful!

  • Feeling like you can’t move forward because you don’t have the tools?
  • Stuck in some phase of a project?
  • Suspect you don’t know enough to move forward?
  • Lack the time or motivation to tackle the situation?

Let’s not blame it on the tools.

If you are feeling stuck in a place where you don’t have “progress”, think about why that is. Pray about what might be holding you back — it may be that this area you think is “progress” isn’t a good idea.

Sometimes our priorities have changed.

Sometimes our life direction has changed.

Sometimes it is fear of failure.

Sometimes the goal is outside our ability and so it hurts our brain to even think about tackling the job.

By taking an honest look at our priorities and our abilities we can re-evaluate them. Still stuck? Have a conversation with a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. [Romans 12:3-8, NIV]

God’s peace as you prioritize!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: COMPLAINING

Bones

Have you ever broken a bone? If so, does it ache when the weather is changing? Do you have any lasting effects of your broken bone?

On a good day, our bones are tucked inside our bodies. They are protected but give strength and form to our bodies. If you have all your bones and they all work fine, be thankful. While we might think nothing of it, there are those who are adjusting to life because on ongoing issues with their bones.

On a difficult day our bones might ache;

they might be exposed;

they might be weakening;

they might need healing;

they may have been removed.

Working through chronic pain, injury, disability, the healing process, and the loss of bone or limbs takes a lot of energy and focus. Our bones are such an integral part of us and it is easy to see why God used it to help us make connections. Bones are a common experience even though ailments related to bones may not be.

Have you felt negative things “in your bones”? Have you felt things so deeply it felt like it was in the marrow of your bones? I love how God talks about bones in His Word!

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. [Proverbs 14:30, NIV]

Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. [Proverbs 15:30, NIV]

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. [Proverbs 16:24, NIV]

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. [Proverbs 17:22, NIV]

As your ears and eyes soak up Scripture, it will permeate your thought life and be visible in how you interact with others. It will deepen your understanding of His love for you and all the people on this planet! God’s Word changes hearts and lives. It digs deep and roots out the yuck that we have buried in our bones.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. [Hebrews 4:12-14, NIV]

God’s blessings as you surround your eyes and heart with His Word!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TOOLS

The Law

I have been flirting with The Law a bit lately. It always happens on our trips, especially a really long one. I am tired of being in the car and I am ready to get where I am going and, once in a while, I tend to be a little heavy-footed and my speed creeps up.

Are there areas in your life that have you flirting with disaster?

Knowing the law is certainly one thing. Striving to obey it is another. I knew the law and willfully disobeyed it. This is definitely one area in my life where I try to see how far I can get away with breaking the law. I push my “luck” on the open road.

Even though I haven’t been ticketed for speeding in a really long time I know I would completely deserve whatever comes my way. There is a boundary line and if I knowingly cross it and I am mature enough to accept the consequences. That ticket would mean a fine and maybe points on my license. I am sure I would be sorry I was “caught” but that is definitely not the same as being sorry for my sin.

And there is a difference.

When my heart is contrite, I experience guilt, regret, remorse, rue, and/or shame. It isn’t about being caught, it is about the sin in my life.  Coming to the knowledge of my sin is overwhelming. But knowing my Savior delivers me from my sin and cleanses me from all unrighteousness is also overwhelming.

 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. [Psalm 51, NIV]

May God’s law work on our hearts and root out the sin that wants to rest there!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: BONES

Uprooted

Have you driven by a wooded area and noticed large trees, roots and all, just lying down? That would be an amazing thing to watch happen. It is interesting that something so tall and so old can just tip over. Ground saturation usually plays a role and I am sure there is a lot to it but it is such an interesting visual.

Have you ever felt like your life was uprooted? Maybe you were in a terrible situation and, even though the change was good, it was change all the same and was distressing.

Or maybe you made the decision to make the change. I always think that when the ball is in my court that it feels better. Or at least it was a bit within my control. But it still is a process and requires a lot of steps.

It seems harder to be completely uprooted these days – even if your “new” life is across the ocean there is an ability to maintain a connection. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it is not so good. You can be tugged back into the “old” when you need to venture forth into the “new”.

Ever try to break free of a particular sin and find it, seemingly, dragging you back into “service”? You try to cut it down, root it out, and then it sprouts up again. You try to leave it behind but it finds ways to catch up with you.

I know we all have sin in our lives – some of them we have just co-existed with over the years because we have numbed ourselves to the reality that it is sin. Today, focus on one area that seems to trouble you and ask God to show you where the root is. Put some time and intentional focus and prayer into this sin that seems to follow you to every job or friendship or place you live and see what you can do to root it out.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. [Colossians 2:6-8, NIV]

God’s blessings to you as you consider what needs to be uprooted in your life.

Liz

PrayerPrompt: THE LAW

Meditation

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19:14, NIV]

We do a lot of traveling for our business. I love the people we meet but I also love the time my mind can wander around and explore different ideas. Of course, one thought leads to another and pretty soon I am way down a path and I couldn’t even tell you how I got there. If I don’t have a “plan” for my thinking time I usually wander, and that isn’t always a bad thing.

But, when I pray and meditate, I like to have a focal point. For prayer, I usually use a word or phrase and talk it over with God. Sometimes that word or phrase conjures up some interesting reflections and reactions from me but, more importantly, I want to learn what His thoughts are on it. When I meditate, I like to mull over Scripture – particularly an area where I need God’s counsel. Sometimes it is just a couple of verses of the Bible but other times it is a chapter in a particular book of the Bible. It’s also a good time for me to use music, particularly soothing music without words. But but hymns and other spiritual songs that fill my mind with God’s Word and Truth are a great way for me to step away from myself and explore the deeper things.

Spending time in prayer and meditation gives me the opportunity to pause and be refreshed with healthy thoughts and concepts. It helps me to uncover those things I might wish to keep covered. By letting God into my thought life I am allowing His truth to correct me and guide me and encourage me.

How do you like to ponder God’s Word?

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. [Psalm 1:1-3, NIV]

May God bless you as you meditate on His Word!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: UPROOTED