What do you do when you negative things come your way? When a friend disagrees with you and puts you down, do you lash out? When your brother cancels your poker game at the last minute for the third time in a row, do you yell at him for being so irresponsible and unreliable? What about when a coworker belittles your ideas and makes you feel small? Do you react by gossiping about her behind her back?
When people are unkind to us, we have two choices. We can respond or we can react. Reacting means doing what we naturally feel and allowing our emotions to choose our words. In contrast, when we choose to respond to a negative situation, we use our mind and heart to overrule our emotions.
Is It Even About Me?
Often, when we are wronged, we incorrectly take the negative actions of another personally. People are sometimes rude and inconsiderate, but many times this has nothing to do with you. First off, if they are habitually rude, that has everything to do with them, and little to do with you. In other instances, a person may not be habitually negative, but something negative has just happened in their life and they let their disappointment get the best of them. In a few instances people are truly mean to you because they want to be. But even in these cases, the right road is to respond, not react.
Each one of us has shortcomings, and as such we are bound to rub each other the wrong way. When someone hurts you, can get mad and let your feelings boil over into harsh words against the wrongdoer. Or you can choose to forgive them. You can forgive, assuming they meant no offense; you can forgive assuming they let their emotions get the best of them, and you can even forgive in cases where it’s clear they were intentionally malicious. You need not wait for their apology—forgive anyway. If an apology comes, great! If not, no big deal.
Create an Opportunity
If you will make the choice to live this way, and act with your will, mind, and heart rather than your emotions, your reward will be peace unknown to the masses who fail to respond and allow themselves to react. Not only that, but those around you will notice your unusual behavior. They may even ask you why you live so differently. Can you think of a better opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?