Friday, May 29, 2015

I Saw It on Facebook

When I was growing up, there was a little chipped ceramic dish on the wall with the first stanza of the Serenity Prayer on it:   


God grant me the serenity 

To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference.


For most of my life, I thought this sounded like a good thing, but never truly considered exactly what it meant.  Then about twenty-three years ago, when Christ drew me back to Him and I started to grow in the Lord, it began to make a lot of sense and became part of my daily prayer life. 



When I saw this on Facebook, it reminded me of the most important lesson in my day to day life that the Serenity Prayer taught me:  I cannot control or change others, but I can with God's help control and change me.  Change my outlook, change how I handle situations.  Perhaps most important, since I had gotten to the point that I flew off the handle at anyone, about almost anything before I came back to Christ, it taught me not to react.

A reaction is knee-jerk, instantaneous.  You react before any thought takes place.  You react before you can breath  a prayer.  While a quick reaction while driving can save your life, in personal relationships, a reaction is often over-the-top. More than the situation calls for.  It also tends not to include the other persons feelings at all.  

So, more and more, my prayer became "Lord, help me not to simply react, but to respond."  A response takes longer.  A response allows time to think, time to whisper a prayer.  A response quickly considers fallout and another's feelings.  A response can ask a question for clarification.  Overall, responses tend to be calmer, quieter than reactions.  

Do I get tired, stressed, overwrought and sometimes revert back to reactions?  Sure, I do.  But now days, I blow up at someone maybe once a month, not three or four times a day. People who see me blow up, may shake their heads and wonder about me, maybe even doubt my religion.  But God, those closest to me, and I know the vast difference from where I was to where I am.  Truth is, no one, not the head shakers, nor I, will be perfect this side of Glory.  We all are works in progress.  

Do you tend to react, or to respond?  Would you say you have or have at one time struggled with anger issues?  If so, how does/did your anger manifest itself?  (Me:  yelling, cursing, slamming things).

  

25 comments:

  1. That's great that you've come so far. It's easy to fly off the handle at things.

    For me, I don't tend to react a lot. Most of the time I'm removed from the situation, so I don't feel so connected to it that I have an emotional reaction.

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    1. Well, thank you, Liz. I"m grateful to be in an overall better place.

      I'm not sure I understand what you mean by most of the time being removed from the situation. I seldom get mad about situations I'm not a part of, unless it is a different "This is so wrong! I need to do something to change this" kind of motivational, quiet anger. And that kind of anger seldom leads me down a bad path, but gives me energy, bravery and desire to speak up or take action to right a wrong, protect an underdog, advocate a cause.

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  2. Hi Barbara,
    Good to be here again to read a wonderful and thought provoking post!
    Yes, God can change things, situation or whatever!
    Getting reacted towards untoward things are common in my life but most of the time
    i feel sad but take courage from God to get over. This made my day dear.

    Keep writing such thought provoking mind blowing pieces!
    Thanks again for dropping at my place and for the lovely comment
    May you have a great weekend
    Have a good and godly day

    TC

    ~ Phil

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    1. Thank you, Phil. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    2. Thank you, Phil. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Most of the time, I respond. But when I'm tired, hungry, or not feeling well, it's easy for me just to react. That was more of a problem when my kids were very young, and I was sleep-deprived. Those were my "Grouchy Mama" days. Glad those are over!

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    1. I do think being tired or not feeling well can shorten anyone's fuse. I know I am happier myself when I'm not grumpy or touchy. So I try hard to get the "me" time I need, the rest I need, etc.

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  4. Great post! I usually respond (at least on the surface) and not react - I've been in the bar/restaurant business for 25 years and you have to stay calm or you can't do the job. I do get angry, but I try to let the trivial stuff go - I have a friend who always says that holding onto anger is like trying to kill someone by putting poison in your own glass. I did have a time, a while back when I owned a bar (which wasn't doing well) that I was very easily provoked, but I think it was because I felt so out of control about my life then.

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    1. That's another great point, Kim. When stress is high or we start to feel things in our life spinning out of control, it is easier to lose our tempers. And your friend is very right! Holding onto anger, keeping a grudge,refusing to forgive - these things do all the damage to us, not the person or thing that wronged us. That's one thing I've never been bad about, as I grew up in a home where I'm sorry and hugs went around soon after a disagreement. Instead of a simmering bed of coals, my anger is a firecracker going off quickly and then dissipating as fast as it came.

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  5. I am both a reactor and a responder. Depends on the situation. I used to have anger issues when I yelled, screamed, threw things. Now I am more likely to just withdraw into myself. My family says that is just as bad....can't please everyone!

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    1. You made me laugh as I thought of the Ricky Nelson song. I suppose the best world is to be able to articulate our anger without being loud, mean or hurtful. And I suppose it depends if you simply withdraw to allow the feelings to dissipate, pray or reflect or if you harboring those feelings of anger and letting them fester.

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  6. This is so true what you wrote here, Barbara; we can't change people, only God can if they will allow him to, but we can change how we personally respond. I try to think these days "they are just doing the best they can with what they have to work with" and take the time to "defuse" rather than "explode."

    betty

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  7. I'm not easily angered but folks have been known to scatter once I am. I'm highly sensitive to the God given right of everything living thing to simply be what or who they are--unless it is harmful or hurtful to others.Thanks for such a contemplative post!

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    1. I've been known to raise a ruckus in response to seeing something I thought was unfair, or undeserved. Champion an underdog or two. Speak up for someone too timid to speak up for themselves.

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  8. I try not to react but sometimes it is hard.

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    1. As some others have said, when we are stressed, tired, sick or hungry it seems harder to control our tempers. And there are people out there that just seem to live to push other people's buttons, but if we allow them to get us angry we let them win, let them control us.

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  9. Definitely I used to be more volatile than I am now, but over all I've never been too reactive of a person. And now especially I like to figure out what's going on first and then come up with an appropriate response.

    This issue of responding appropriately and not overreacting to what people do and say has been on my mind a lot of late and especially in the past few weeks. I get tired of fighting with people who want to fight.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Your recent posts on the subject crossed my mind as I was writing this one, and I couldn't help but wonder if God wasn't up to something. My Facebook graphic saves that I use for this series are all in folders and I'm simply going through them in the order they appear to make these posts.

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  10. I close my eyes to a lot of the negative... so much of it around, many cannot avoid it. I try to share happy, stupid sometimes and goofy things with the social medias I have... keeping it simple.

    so have a razzle-dazzle day!

    Jeremy

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    1. That's just one reason why you leave a trail of smiles where you go.

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  11. I can be slow to anger but when it comes - KAPOW. I yell. I explode. I cry. I sulk. I have done it in some embarrassing situations. Not every day. Not every week. But it comes. I am impressed that you changed your behavior drastically. I have improved over the years with maturity, but I still have a ways to go when I am tired, or stressed.

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    1. I suppose in some ways my anger was similar to yours...still is in that when I get angry I go from zero to sixty in a second. If I were a car, I'd be the fastest thing on the road. I have never cried when angry, except a handful of times where I was in a situation where I could not explode because my audience had some kind of authority over me. Tears came because I felt so strongly I had every right to be angry,but couldn't find an acceptable way to express it. Couldn't find a way to respond calmly, so I could not respond at all. But, yes, thankfully anger is no longer a part of my every day life, or even every week life. I think we all tend to be at our weakest in controlling our emotions when we are tired and stressed.

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  12. I sometimes get frustrated at work, and then a little voice reminds me of a quote a friend shared with me, "Let something good happen to me or through me today." This reminds me to be kind to those idiots I have to deal with and which helps me to remain professional in my work... once I'm home, though, well you can't continue to be mad while dogs are licking your face...

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    1. I had a very sweet friend named who had a similar expression, "Be blessed and be a blessing." Either way, good advice! Animals are great de-stressers!

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So glad you stopped by! Come 'round any time. ~ Barbara

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