Reactor Disengaged

Listen up, this one’s for all you reactor’s! You know who you are…when someone rubs you with their sandpaper words or actions, you react. Only it’s not with a Christ-like response, it’s full-out D E F E N S E!

I can throw this out here because, people….I KNOW EXACTLY HOW TO SLAM DOWN A REACTION! So, you’re welcome. I’m here to challenge you to walk away from reacting to every little annoying or hurtful thing that comes at you. Goodness knows, the world needs more loving relationships and less snarly I can’t stand being around you’s! Am I right?

First off, what is it that pushes your buttons? I only ask because that should be exactly where we start, what bothers you? The truth is, often the way we respond to someone that’s a bit difficult has nothing to do with them or their words and everything to do with us. Questions to ask ourselves — Am I just being grouchy? Hungry? Tired? Or am I just being selfish with this person and expecting them to be a model of perfection to fit a standard they will never live up to? OUCH!

If you are not being gracious out of your own selfish issues, the problem isn’t the scratchy person you’re dealing with….it might just be you. That doesn’t mean the people you are frustrated with aren’t being unreasonable or jerky, it only means you may be off your game and not seeing the underlying issue going on with them or yourself. So, you react.

Remember the hurting people, hurt people idea?

Usually when someone attacks or hurts you, the problem is a deep hurt or frustration inside of them. However, you could have honestly done something to them (DO NOT FORGET TO OWN YOUR OWN ISSUES!) and if so, you owe them an apology. The longer you allow the friction between you, the harder it will be to reconcile an ugly situation.

Second, if this rough around the edges person is a chronic toxic partner in your relationship…you have to figure out a way to FORGIVE them. Forgiveness does not mean you allow yourself to become their punching bag. Nope, not at all. It does mean that you can find a way to be sympathetic to them and whatever it is that’s hurting inside. The way you respond to the garbage they throw on you can make the difference in either squelching the situation or inflaming it. If you’ve ever had a pointless argument with someone than you can probably think back to the real issue being something totally opposite of the whole disagreement.

Tough day at work.
Financial struggles.
Sick family member.
Job loss.
Family strife.
Abuse.
Physical pain.
Rejection.
Embarrassment or shame.

Just to name a few reasons we act out in our relationships.

I gotta tell ya, I have reacted to many situations that only escalated a problem that was never even mine to get bent out of shape over. Marriage can be the safest place to REACT and lose control. We tend to be safe there. Which, is in truth, a rotten behavior or habit to fall into. Over time, the reactions can get meaner and uglier until both involved have a stack of resentments higher than the marriage can fend off. So many divorces occur because of the way we react and completely forego the other person’s feelings.

The cold hard truth is we tend to develop a high sense of being offended.

I can find myself totally offended and not even have a human face-to-face encounter during the day. You and I do not have to look very hard to find ourselves offended. Been online lately? Avoid arguing with others from the get-go and you will be a much more gracious person. On and off the internet.

Here’s what I know about controlling the way I react:

If I stop and admit when I am wrong, the frustration between us lessens and the conversation can turn to a more fair and controlled situation. There’s never a winner if you just keep pounding that YOU ARE RIGHT! Truth is, you might be wrong!

If I do a soundcheck on my own heart, the real feelings I’m harboring inside come to light. It’s not always easy to admit when you’re wrong or responding to a bad situation in a way that’s sinful. Matter of fact, most of us never confess to being a jerk. We just let junk fester and soon we cannot hide our sinful reactions. Heart problems will get you and me. Clean it up, people.

If I am constantly in defense mode, the problem with my reacting is more than likely MINE! Remember that commercial, “You’re pushing my buttons, Roger”? Your husband, kids and the rest of the world WILL PUSH YOUR BUTTONS! Maybe not every day, but every chance they can. Be ready, but be tender. You don’t have to come back with your hair on fire. Shut it down with a loving response or some kind of grace that slows everyone’s hot temper. You don’t have to always win or be right.

Remember:

When emotion is high, wisdom is low.

You are equipped to handle your reactions whether you believe it or not. God has given you power over your emotions. If you feel weak in this area, make it a priority to pray about your struggle and memorize scripture to combat the flesh that pulls you towards reacting. You can control situations that seem out of control with a gentle and loving reaction. If you think reacting back with shirt-sleeve feelings is going to work….it’s not.

Lord,
I’m sorry for the many ways I’ve reacted to others that didn’t honor you. My heart wants to be gracious and I’m not doing that when I respond in a way that causes more friction. Help me to offer kindness and mercy to even the least deserving. I never know when that’s going to be me.
Amen

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