Your response is up to you. Regardless of what someone else says or does to you. Don’t let people live rent free in your head. It doesn’t matter what they do or what they did, what they say or what they said. You are responsible for your response. It’s yours to control.
That may come as a surprise to you. Life is happening all around you all the time. Life throws things at you that you aren’t prepared for. You face dilemmas and ordeals. People, being people, don’t always treat you right. How you respond in the light of the adversities and the adversaries life brings your way is a choice you make.
I don’t say any of this lightly. I know it’s hard. I know it can be challenging. The fact that it isn’t easy doesn’t change the reality. The subject of response has been something I, along with several friends, have had the opportunity to study and reflect on a great deal in recent months. Not because we were experts at responding well. No, to the contrary, we found ourselves unhappy with the responses we were giving. People were frustrating us. People would offend us. People would get the better of us. Sometimes very unintentionally. Sometimes very intentionally.
People will be people. Don’t expect them not to be. However, don’t assume you know them or what motivates them. Don’t assume that you know what’s driving their behavior. It doesn’t matter. You see, you’re not responsible for their actions or their behavior. You are responsible and accountable for yours.
Scripture makes it clear that this is the case. Here are a couple of examples:
Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Romans 14:12 “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
To help each other with our response, a couple of us have teamed up and agreed to help each other. We pray for one another, we give a weekly accounting of our responses, and we teach that which we most need to learn ourselves to as many people as God will let us. Because we take our responsibility to teach and equip others seriously, having to teach it puts pressure on us to learn it.
Being intentional and conscientious about how we respond to others has helped us tremendously. It hasn’t changed the people who push our buttons. It has changed how encountering them impacts our day. It has caused us to depend more on Him, through whom we can do all things and without whom we can do nothing. We have grown to learn that our natural response isn’t usually the right response. We lean on each other and on the Lord to help us respond rightly, in a supernatural way, so that we are glorifying Him who delights in us. When we screw up, we are quick to confess it, and make amends with the person on the receiving end of our poor response.
No doubt, it’s not easy. But we’ll get there, one day at a time. Not to would mean being forever in bondage to the words and actions of others. Responding rightly cultivates freedom.