We live in a world full of voices and many times, those voices upset me.
When people say things that upset me, I have a choice. I can latch onto the emotional reaction and watch it grow. Or I can choose peace.
A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
When someone says something racist or otherwise thoroughly offensive, I don’t have to take offense. I can refuse to participate.
That doesn’t mean I agree with what they said. It just means that I refuse to engage in the emotional battle with that person. They said what they said. I heard it with my ears and felt the pain of it in my heart. But I don’t have to invite it into my life.
A baseball player learns to read the pitch. He learns that he doesn’t have to swing at everything that’s thrown at him.
I don’t have to accept everything that’s said to me. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. And just because someone says it to me doesn’t mean I am required to respond.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
This is especially true in today’s modern, technological world. People are saying things all day long on social media. They may not be saying it specifically to me, but they’re saying it to anyone and everyone who reads their posts.
I don’t have to respond. More than that, I don’t even have to receive the offense, if I don’t want to.
If someone posts something utterly disrespectful about a certain group of people, I may react with anger or disgust. And that’s fine. God gave us emotions. We’re created in His image and He has emotions.
But after the initial emotional reaction, I have a choice. Am I going to latch onto that anger or disgust and let it drag me around for a while?
Or am I going to let it go. It’s just something someone said. I disagree completely; but I’m not required to register my disagreement – especially if doing so is going to take me somewhere emotionally that I don’t want to go.
“But she just makes me so mad!”
“He scares me!”
Other people control what they do, but I’m in control of how I react to them. I can choose to let their actions control my reactions, but I don’t have to.
It’s not easy, and it takes time and effort to change if I’ve spent my life letting others determine my reaction.
But I have a choice.
I Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
What that person said or did may tempt me to latch onto my emotional response and be dragged around by it. But God has provided a way out. I can train my mind and body to pause between my natural emotional reaction and whatever the next step is.
And that pause is when I decide how I will react.
I’m not saying that no one should ever respond to things that are posted on social media. There is a place for Holy Spirit led conversation and rebuttal. There is a principle of standing up for what is right.
I’m saying I have to think long and hard before I respond. Because I have learned that it is dangerous to my mental health.
If I want more peace in my life – fewer anxiety triggers – then I have to make better choices about the conversations I join.
Staying silent on an issue doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about it. Most often, it means that I’ve assessed the situation and determined that expressing my opinion in that time and place would just stir up unnecessary drama in my mind.
Others may be able to engage in those exact same situations with no harmful side effects. Praise God! Discussion and debate can be educational and productive.
But not for me.
By myself, I’m too easily triggered into worry and anxiety. With God, I’m able to avoid these triggers and maintain my peace and balance.
God provided His peace as a free gift of grace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I have to do my part to live in that peace.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
How has God taught you to choose peace in your life?
Photo credit: geralt