So often what I witness is reaction. Reaction to horrific events, like mass shootings. Reactions to refugees. Reactions devoid of any rationality. Reactions that feed our preconceived notions of how we think the world should work. Reactions to arguments in church. Reactions over something that is said. Reactions over silly things that are ultimately not important.
What I don’t observe are people taking time to think and reflect. We’re too busy reacting and demanding action that happens to align with our way of thinking (because, you know, obviously we are the only ones that have the truth), without even having any understanding of what is going on, let alone why.
I make the argument that it’s good when you can think and reflect instead of jumping to preconceived ideas and notions. Of course, it’s a great deal more rewarding to just react and feed our ego with the idea that we are right and we’re doing something about the situation.
We need more pause and thinking in our culture – way more. Aren’t you all tired yet of constantly reacting, going on an emotional roller coaster, and speaking before you’ve thought out what you are going to say?
I know this is a problem from the mere fact that most Americans can’t handle moments of silence or stillness. They have to say something to someone, even a stranger, or check their phone, or move around. We’re in a constant state of movement.
To make an analogy of this – If I constantly trained for a marathon, I would get injured. The body needs time to rest between exercise, especially strenuous exercise. I believe the mind needs time to rest as well. To soak things in and make sense of them. Or at least to put things into perspective and to detach from the emotional reactions we have.
Our sin, if we can call it that, is really a time management sin. We aren’t, as a nation, giving time to what is important, but rather to what is urgent. The result of focusing on the urgent is an emergency room mentality. Emergency rooms exist to deal with chaos and violence and disease. They are in a constant state of responding. Decisions have to be made based on the information available. Emergency rooms run on triage – determining which problem is the most urgent.
How often do our political leaders take on an emergency room mentality? This is not the way to run a country, a state, or even a municipality.
How about in church? How often do we take on an emergency room mentality? There’s a decline, quick do something, anything? Maybe we need to launch a children’s program. Maybe we need to send out a postcard to members. Maybe we need to…
How about any dispute in church? Quick, we have to settle the dispute right away before it gets uncomfortable. We have to side with one side or the other. Everything is black and white. There can be only winners and losers. There couldn’t possibly be a third, fourth, or more options available. When we’re busy responding, we have no choice but to pick sides because that’s all the options that we can see. That usually turns out great doesn’t it? No wonder we have hundreds, if not thousands of Christian denominations. We’re so damned concerned with being right that any deviation of belief makes you a heretic who eats with the devil. Great way to move forward with life isn’t it?
This is not the way to run a church. I can’t recall Jesus ever leading his movement this way.
Emergency Room mentalities belong in the emergency room.
Take time to think and reflect. Stop responding. Stop reacting all the time. Let that meme on Facebook that was offensive to you or just full of error go by. It’s not your job to save the world. It’s not your job to correct everyone. By responding or commenting or giving it any attention at all, you are just giving it credibility.
Put your smart phone down for some time – it’s not making you smarter – it’s just loading you up with more information. We don’t need more information, we’ve got more information than at any time in history, yet we seem to be making worse decisions, creating hostility and creating an environment of uncertainty, mistrust, and division.
It’s time to stop and think and reflect. Yes, there will always be another tragedy that we feel the need to respond to. The media is really good at keeping this top of mind. Yes, some politician will say something stupid – in an age when the cameras are on politicians for 24 hours a day and the campaigns go on for what seems like an eternity this is going to happen. Then again, some politicians purposefully say stupid things to draw attention to themselves – and what do we do – we fall for it and respond.
But if we really want to stop the chaos, then we need to stop and think and reflect from time to time. We need to stop talking at each other and start listening without worrying about how we will respond. We call ourselves Christians, yet we act like Pharisees.
Stop, pray, listen, think, reflect, sit in silence. Then act, if action is necessary. Many times, just the act of stopping and removing the emotion will calm things down to the point where no action is necessary. Other times, action will be necessary. If we are going to act though, then let it be a well thought out action or statement. Please.