Don’t you love our reflexes? They help us react in a second.
Maybe it sends a signal to hit the brakes when a dog leaps into view on a dark road. Or it makes you witty and sharp in conversation with friends.
But it can also leave us with regrets when we whip out that retort or we act in haste.
Paul makes a confession in Romans 7:14.
“So the trouble is not with the law,” he says, “for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.”
Oh, Paul, how I relate!
Something inside of me wants to strike out when I’m hurt, or offended, or just plain all-out ticked.
What can we do in those situations?
After all, the feelings are there.
We can pause.
Just for a second, or two.
It doesn’t make you a doormat.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t work through the issue.
It simply means that you won’t have to go back and repair damage or carry it around with you for a few days — or weeks or even years.
I can’t help it, Suzie. It’s just the way I am. You don’t understand. I have a temper.
Does that surprise you?
I’m soft spoken, but those who know me best realize that I wrestle with a temper. It is usually on simmer, but there are some areas and with some types of situations that it can unleash in a heartbeat.
What if you have a right to be mad?
But do you have a right to act badly?
Do you have a right to be hurtful?
We do have a right to address the issue.
We do have a right to work through the problem when it’s not in the heat of the moment.
We do have a right to get angry and “sin not.”
The power of the pause helps us live free.
It frees us from assuming responsibility for someone else’s actions. It frees us from unhealthy actions tied to emotions. It gives us a moment to breath when we feel that tension in our jaw and the heat rising in our face.
It allows us to invite Jesus into the moment.
To see the bigger picture. Or to gain insight that might not come otherwise.
Even when the person on the other side acts badly, we can respond calmly or walk away. Perhaps even to have a glimpse of the hurt between us and address that, instead of heaping more damage in the moment.
Have I perfected the art of pause?
But the more that I have used it, the more it becomes ingrained.
Less an art and more a part of me.
It allows me to strengthen my relationship with those I love, and even with myself as I learn to trust my reactions.
We are all too human sometimes. Paul finally came to this conclusion, and it is mine as well:
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26
Has today been hard?
Live free, my friend.
Take a breath. Make it a prayer. He knows you. He knows your situation.
He will help.
For the next six weeks we’ll look at what it means to live free.
We’ll be honest about the fact that living free isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the journey.
We’ll find tools and the power of scripture to help us through our day. To grow. To believe that we are not stuck in old patterns and ways of doing things.
To live free: Pause before you react.
Today: When you feel that tension, take a breath. A deep breath. Invite God into the moment as you allow your brain to catch up with your emotions.
Scripture: Romans 8:26