How you respond to others? Knee “Jerk” Reactions

How you respond to others? Knee “Jerk” Reactions

by Linda Lyke

Milton, Wis.


We’ve all heard of “road rage,” right?

Well, instead of reacting in anger to something on the road, I have had a history of reacting emotionally to electronic transmissions—a text, an email, a Facebook message—without praying and thinking it through. I type a message, press “enter” or “send” and then think, “What did I do?” One instance, a couple of years ago, really stands out.

My sister-in-law had texted me. Instead of thinking it through, I texted something nasty back. It was uncalled for and mean. I jumped to conclusions and I was totally wrong. You might say that I had a “knee-jerk reaction” and I was the jerk, for sure.

When we react emotionally to something, we have to look at the deeper problem there. Something from the past is causing us to react to an emotional hurt. Well, obviously I didn’t think about that in the moment.

My sister-in-law, to whom I was pretty close, was very hurt. God convicted me of my sin, and I was compelled to confide in godly friends. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

So I prayed to God that He would present me with the opportunity to confess to friends at church. On Sabbath morning prior to church, I saw two godly friends, two “safe” people, and I felt comfortable confessing my sin. I laid my sins bare; I felt horrible.

I remember one friend trying to make me feel better, saying “We all do things like this.” I said, “No, it was wrong. I totally twisted her message! She was texting me about something else. I misinterpreted it, and gave an unwarranted nasty response.” I needed my sin acknowledged and my friends prayed with me.

Before I had gone to church that morning, I read Isaiah 1:18—“‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’” After confessing my sin to my friends of faith, I had confidence that He had made my sin as white as snow.

I called my sister-in-law that afternoon and cried with her. She forgave me, but I knew we still had healing to do. A year later, she wrote me a note and said how at the time, she didn’t think our relationship would ever be the same, but in the end, she thought it was actually better. I had not realized how deeply I had hurt her until I read this but I was also thankful that God worked through this for good.

Bringing the sin out into the light with my friends did a lot of good for me. It was also a way to prevent from falling into that same sin. I want to say that I have not done this again, but that would be a lie. For some reason, I am always shocked when I fall into the “knee-jerk” reactions.

Obviously God is still working on me in this area, helping me to learn not to be reactionary overall—not just in electronic transmissions. I have a long way to go, but because of God’s strength, I have also made progress. When we have not learned a lesson, God is good at giving us plenty of opportunity to re-learn that lesson, over and over again, until we “get” it. I am thankful that God wipes my sins away, offering forgiveness, if only I ask.

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