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

Where are you going?

Night Flight w
Night Flight! 

Recently I have needed to travel quite a bit. I appreciate a good but flexible itinerary and I also like time to explore on my own.

The most important thing to keep in mind when I am “on the road” is that things often change. A flight might be delayed or cancelled. If I am traveling by car there might be a traffic delay or a problem with my vehicle. There may be a detour that allows for an unusual adventure, if I quit stewing about the delay.

Life can be like that too! You’ve got a plan and you seek to execute it but something interrupts the itinerary. Maybe someone else inserted their agenda. Maybe your destination changed because you made some choices that took you on a detour.

This is life.

There are some things we have control over but not everything. You might think you are going one place but things aren’t adding up to that.

Where are you headed?

This seems to be the better question. If you think about what you are hoping to accomplish, are the things you are doing now heading you in that direction? Are the people you are spending time with encouraging you in your goal? Have you asked God for His insight on the matter? Sometimes He speaks through prayer and Scripture and sometimes He uses people in our lives to influence us.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. [Psalm 119:105 NIV]

Lord, face me in the direction I need to go and direct my footsteps and clear my path. Amen.

On the way,

Liz

His strength. His peace.

atrength3w

There are so many people I know and love in the middle of situations that are very challenging and yet they persevere. I know it is because they are relying on God as their source of strength even if it is just one step at a time, one day at a time.

How easy it is for us to think, at least initially, that our strength, education, bank account, or resilience will get us through every situation. “The world” chides us for being weak or dependent both directly and indirectly. If we are indoctrinated by that garbage for too long it can seep into our souls and cause some problems. We might try to “power through” or “make it on our own” but it really can only get us so far.  We might look down on others for needing assistance but, if we live long enough, we will eventually find ourselves in circumstances that can bring us to our knees:

Aging parents. Disabilities. Death. Broken Relationships. Job loss. Natural disasters.

When I am on my knees it seems I am better able to see and hear the things from God that I need to know. I am not quite as distracted by the other nonessential things because my focus is on seeking the strength for the day. In some situations we might find we need assistance from others and it helps us get along. In other situations, we might find ourselves completely alone, with utter dependence on God and His provisions.

When we are smart or strong or physically able or have “enough” do we let God be our strength and our salvation?

strength1wThat is a challenge for me. Sometimes I get confused about how I am making it through life or a certain situation. It is very difficult to shut out the world’s way of thinking that everything is up to me and my efforts. The more resources I have at my disposal the easier it is to think that I am handling it all. Once I think it is all about what I am achieving, I get frustrated when things don’t pan out according to plan. But have I really dreamed up the best plan? It seems rather empty to chase after physical things and try to control all the things that happen in my life. The thought that I have control (and even make the best choices in situations when I can exercise control) is an illusion. Life is not all about me. Life is not all about you. My life is not my own. And neither is yours!

Have you been in a place where the outcome is out of your control and you just need to trust God to give you His strength?

Heavenly Father ~ give us your strength for this day and bless us with your perfect peace! Amen.

On the Road,

Liz

strength2w

 

Formulas

3 steps to a new _________!

10 ways to teach your ______ how to ______!

12 foods you should eat every day!

7 ways to a new __________!

9 foods to throw out of your diet!

I know most of the things I should be doing but I am so overwhelmed with everything I have to do that I would love a sure fire formula for a few battle areas. Do you ever feel the same way? I know when I am desperate I am not as discerning as I need to be and it is then that I fall prey to deception.

If every formula depended on only me, maybe, just maybe they would work, but considering my level of distraction, I don’t guess so. While I am not against suggestions, I think it is important to remember that many of the “formulas” for weight loss, obedient children, a better marriage, success in school, etc do not take into account that people and their wills are also a part of the equation. Some of these ultimate formulas are ultimately frustrating and keep us chasing our tails!

If you find yourself in a desperate spot, hoping that someone else’s perfect formula will help you out of a crazy situation, think again because if you pursue a plan without any discernment on your part, you might make things worse. There isn’t a perfect, sure fire plan for most things because we are dealing with unique people and complicated lives and culture. You cannot control every variable and you should not try.

There may be some things you can control and there are many, many more things you cannot. Amazingly, God allowed us to have our wills and He continues to work in, with, and through our mistakes and struggles to bring His message of love and grace to a hurting world. If we do a little more releasing of things we want to control, God can move in and have some wiggle room to transform a situation. It might not follow a formula someone recommended to you but are you comfortable enough with God to let Him lead you in a way unique to your situation? Following someone else’s formula isn’t always the best plan–but following God is!

Dig into His Word and seek His face. You might consider what those around you have to say but listen with discernment. When you adopt a formula, you are taking the lead. It is hard for God to lead when we are in the way!

Control

Can we ever get all of it under control? I don’t think it is possible. I don’t think it is meant to be possible. While this might be a disappointing piece of news for you, it is a relief to me!!!

Glance over this list…surely there is something out of your control here:

Budget, Children, Paperwork, Relationships, Health, Laundry, Kitchen Cupboards, Refrigerator, Food Shopping and Meal Planning, Chores,  Vehicle Maintenance, Home Maintenance

Really? shall I continue?

Family Schedules, Education, Smoking, Drinking, Recreational Drug Use, Weight, Eating, Exercise, Thought Life, Spiritual Life, Emotional Life, Addictive Behaviors, Marriage

I know there is more… 

What is our obsession with control? Sometimes our personal lack of control is seen in our need to control others. Sometimes we are just weighed down by the expectations of others and so we work hard to “earn” someone’s favor by being “in control”. There are things that are simply out of our control and there are things we certainly can work on. If I am always angry about how things are going, I am likely feeling out of control and not sure where to put that frustration and so it comes out as anger. It’s somewhat understanding because feeling like everything is out of control is a very frustrating feeling!

Here is my confession ~ At one time or another I have tried to get all of those things listed above under my control. Guess what? It hasn’t worked yet. I can make progress in some areas but I just can’t seem to conquer everything on that list and certainly not at the same time. I am actually not sure I have conquered anything of that list. All I will say is that sometimes I make progress.

I am not sure why I expect myself to have everything under control. I guess because lots of people look like they have it under control but they I suspect they don’t. It’s most likely a mirage. It just appears to be the case. It is probably what people want me to think is true.

Me? I am a mess some days. Maybe most days. And when I acknowledge that life is messy and I am messy and I ask God to work through my circumstances for something bigger than myself (like Him) He is able to take my mess and makes a message out of it. I hope it is a message of grace because that is what I need to hear and so I am betting others need to hear it too.

Let’s be real and admit where we have a struggle, an unrealistic expectation, or a mess. Trying to look like we have everything under control isn’t healthy for others and it isn’t healthy for us either. While everyone does not need to know everything, confessing our lack of control to those we rub shoulders with most frequently is being real. I think when we are real with others it invites them to be real with us. And that is where we start to accept who we are instead of always striving to be someone we aren’t.

Lord, within my mess I need to see Your message. Help me to bring all of it to You and accept Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Amen.