When Reactions Lead the Way


Does anyone else ever feel like you spend your days “reacting”?

You wake up to find the cat threw up on the carpet. You react.

Your daughter spills milk all over the floor at breakfast. You react.

Your son speaks disrespectfully to you when you ask him to do something. You react.

A car cuts you off as you are taking your kids to school. You react.

It’s only 9 AM and you’ve spent a good majority of your morning reacting.

Now, I realize that not all reactions are bad. In some, perhaps all, of the situations above you or I may have reacted in a positive, helpful way… even before our second cup of coffee! But I’ve been thinking a lot about reactions lately. And while I could definitely write a post about the way we react to everyday situations like the ones listed above (perhaps I should…) I’ve been mostly considering the ways we as parents react to the situations and circumstances that arise in our culture, nation, on social media and elsewhere.

Let’s look at an example.

Your child comes home from school chatting about the flag football team all the other boys are joining. He’s practically jumping up and down with excitement. Can he join the team too?

And you react. Of course, he can! You’re so happy that he’s so happy. Perhaps this will help him make new friends at school. AND you really want him to think you are the “bestest momma in the whole world!“

Now is there anything wrong with this scenario in particular? Nope… except that your life has now been guided by a reaction. Now this might not be a big deal unless our lives are like this all the time. Something comes up, we react, and our calendar/pocketbook/emotion tank takes the brunt of it.

Proverbs 29:18 says

“Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.”

I’ve been considering the difference between parenting from a place of reaction and parenting from a place of vision. When we parent guided by life circumstances as they arise, we are bounced around with little purpose or forward movement. But when we parent with a God-given vision for who we are as a family, what we are about, and goals for who we are growing to become as we follow Christ, our decisions are guided by wisdom rather than reaction.

Now does this mean, that if our son comes home from school excited to participate in school’s flag football team that we say “no.” Absolutely not. But it does mean we take time (as parents and perhaps as a family depending on children’s ages) to consider how this will impact the family’s vision before making a decision.

This also doesn’t mean that parts of our vision might not change or grow as the family grows. What might not fit in your family vision for one year, might fit the next year. It’s not always black and white. (I’ll explain more about this next week).

It is my growing belief that one can’t listen to the Holy Spirit if one is reacting to life’s circumstances and world events. And I don’t know about you, but I desperately need the Holy Spirit’s guidance as I attempt to parent my children as God would have me to. For it is God who knows just how we should respond in every moment and how best to lead the children He has placed in our care.

*** If you are interested in developing an intentional vision for your family, I highly recommend Mark and Lisa Scandrette’s book “Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture.”

Parents, what are some world or cultural happenings that you find are easy to “react” to? It is so easy for me to be led by my reactions as life happens, what are some ways you and I can take a step back to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of being reactionary?

Heavenly Father, at this moment in time, it almost seems the world is awash in chaos. From hurricanes to flooding to nuclear threats to human trafficking to over sexualized culture, it seems like there is fear on every side. Yet we know that fear is not from You. Even as the world goes crazy, You are with us. You are in control. You’ve got it all covered. You are so very near. O Father, remind us every day of this truth and lead us, God. Help us to be led by your God-given vision, not our earthly, fear-filled reactions. Cover us in Your grace and wisdom. Amen.

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