Thoughts On… A Measured Response

Welcome to Monday, friends! I hope you’re week is off to a good start! This has been rattling around in my brain lately in various forms, so I hope you’ll bear with me for some thoughts.

I’ve become acutely aware that I probably pay too much attention to the news these days. I’ve begun to long for the days of reading the daily newspaper and tuning in to the six o’clock news while making dinner for the family as the extent of my news consumption. But we are in different times now and media outlets flood our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds and broadcast on multiple channels on our TVs 24-7. I’m making conscious choices to limit my consumption, but feel it’s unrealistic (and slightly irresponsible) to unplug completely from what’s going on in the world.

And so I’ve found myself thinking about the problem of immediate and rushed responses to current events. Actually, it’s not the reactions/responses themselves that concern me. Human beings are emotional creatures and it’s natural that we would have some emotive response to events that we find shocking, disgusting, troubling — just as we would have a response to a joyous, thrilling, or inspiring event. It’s the rapid-fire sharing – in the public forum – of the responses that bothers me.

Does anyone – especially in public life — take the time to measure their responses and reactions anymore? And in fairness, I could — and should –ask the same question of you and me. Why do we fall prey to snap judgments and feel we have to weigh in publicly with our rushed and often extreme comments?

I’ve been criticized at times for not having immediate responses to things — a personal disagreement, a professional conflict, even the news of the day. I am one that, while I certainly FEEL responses, actually recoil from the sharing of that response. My default is to take a moment, an hour, a day, a week even, to process what I just heard/witnessed/read about. It’s uncomfortable for me to respond in the moment. But my hesitation sometimes comes across as being “wishy-washy” or lacking in convictions, or worse.

I have learned the hard way that once things are spoken (or written or posted), you can’t ever take them back. I’ve been hurt by words spoken in anger and haste, and I’ve certainly hurt others by the same. It’s a pain and a regret that my conflict-adverse personality abhors. Sure you can apologize or “walk it back”, but words have power. Staying power.

And in this day of demands for rapid responses to politics, social issues, moral dilemmas, I find myself speaking less and thinking/ listening more. The more I see immediate visceral responses to current events, the more I slow my own reactions down and the more baffled I am by others’ swift condemnations or accolades. Will we ever learn that in our internet obsessed world all is NOT as it seems? Where is our healthy skepticism? Can we view events as presented with open minds AND open hearts? Where is mercy and grace in our reactions and interactions?

I’m not alone in asking these questions and that gives me HOPE. Hope that we, as human beings, could take a step back from the cliff of snap judgments and use our God-given abilities to listen, question, and discern. Hope that we can tap into our own humanity and realize that we are all flawed and deserving of a fair hearing — and forgiveness. Remember that God planted the word LISTEN on my heart a few months ago? I have had to examine closely how well I actually LISTEN and it hasn’t been pretty. I used to tell my preschool classes: “If you’re talking, you’re not listening.” Oh how I wish I could put that lesson into the universe now!! There is SO much talking and not near enough listening.

All I know is the lens through which I try to process current events or interactions and measure my responses and that is the Word of God. When I lean into the Word it instructs me, guides me, and convicts me when I think I know better. I’m still learning to tap into this guidance — it’s a journey and it’s intentional. Maybe someday it will be so engrained that it will be second-nature?

“The one who has knowledge restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent — discerning, when he seals his lips.” Proverbs 17:27-28

For sure, there have been – and will continue to be – things that require a response. I wrestle with the platform God has gifted me as the leader of a Christian organization. I believe that He has put a check in my spirit many times when I’ve been tempted to weigh in online or to my community. But He’s also nudged me to speak out on occasion. My hope and prayer is that any thoughts I may share come from a thoughtful, measured place before I put them “out there.” And my response still may not be exactly the “right” one, in the eyes of some. It will however be one that I can live with and one that I can stand by.

What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this – just keep in mind that this is not a political post and be respectful in the comments, please.

xo Heidi

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