Those two words have become more and more a part of my life over the last several months. This season we have been in...waiting to see what God has next for the Greenwoods...has had it's ups and downs. One moment we know that we know that we know that God is there leading and guiding our family. Preparing us for our next ministry. We keep pressing forward, but in all honesty there are times when I feel like I am at the bottom of a pit and feel like God has forgotten us. It is in those moments, I have a hard time responding and often times end up reacting to the situation I am in.
A couple of months back as I was having a down moment, I heard the Lord speak to me. He asked me, "Are you responding or reacting to the situation you are in?" I wasn't exactly sure what He meant by that, so the journey began. When God asks me questions like that, I don't really like to shrug them off...I like to find the answer.
As I started walking this journey, the Lord began to show me times when I reacted...being too short with the Hooties...raising my voice at them because I had already reminded them of that expectation for the 15 millionth time that day (OK, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it did feel like that in the moment)...allowing what someone said to me affect my attitude...snapping at my husband unnecessarily...the list could go on and on. I wasn't living in a state of reacting. I did have moments of responding but they only happened by the grace of God. During those times of responding, He would softly whisper to me that this is what responding looks like. I liked those moments when He would praise me. But for some reason, they weren't very consistent.
So, I began praying for wisdom...for understanding of what the Lord was trying to teach me. And He answered those prayers. A couple of weeks ago as I was preparing to have a conversation with someone, the Lord clarified what He meant by "Are you responding or reacting to the situation you are in?" As I was preparing for this conversation (at 2am in the morning...yup, 2am...it seems to be the only time that I have uninterrupted thinking time!), the Lord had me write down the following words:
"Responding takes time, patience and perseverance. It often requires you to wait."
"Reacting is trying to find the quickest and easiest way out of your situation."
(Now, I want to be clear that the reacting I am talking about here is NOT when your child is about to touch a hot stove and you yell, "Stop!" I am taking about when God puts us in a situation, usually a trial, and all we want is out.)
Talk about a God-moment!! I sat on the floor in the bathroom and was amazed at what He had just revealed to me. How I was living in a state of reacting...ready to move on to our next call, trying to force His hand to get us to the next place...and not willing to learn all that He is wanting to teach me in this season...I had been reacting...I had been trying to find the quickest and easiest way out of our situation. That morning, I prayed for the Spirit to fill me, so I would really begin to consistently respond to our situation...that the Spirit would give me patience and perseverance. And, when I feel like I have run out of patience and perseverance, I prayed that He would sustain me during those times.
Since that morning, when the Lord gave me a better understanding of what He means, He has given me PLENTY of opportunities to choose to respond and not to react to the situations around me. I pray that over time, it won't be a choice for me to respond, but responding will become a part of who I am. Believe me when I say that I have A LOT of growth in this area, but with the help of the Spirit, I am ready to get to work.