[notice] A fortnightly column by Anna Heydenrych[/notice]
What would you do if you were driving in your car, and a big hairy spider jumped out at you from the dashboard?
I think that I would probably FREAK OUT. I would not take kindly to the situation and would likely take some drastic measures to remove either myself or the spider from the car. This could however lead to even worse problems. If I took my focus off the road and reacted to the spider situation without much thought, I might place myself and others in danger. Knowing this, I still cannot guarantee that I would not freak out at the sight of a spider on my dashboard.
The other day, while driving in the car with my husband, I felt something sting me under my shirt. Fortunately, I was not the one driving. I imagined a spider crawling around on my back. On noticing my severe reaction, my husband brought the car to a stop and told me to sit still and be calm. I then proceeded to do the opposite, especially after he lifted the back of my shirt up to find the culprit and said, “I see it, just sit still while I remove it”, but failed to tell me what ‘it’ was. Imagining the worst, I threw off my shirt and jumped into the street in my bra (to my husband’s absolute horror).
This got me thinking about three little words of advice that I once heard; Act, don’t react. I try to remember this when big hairy problems jump out at me. My initial reaction is often one based on emotion. Emotion is good, but some thoughts and feelings are better kept to myself until I have had time to assess the situation and think clearly about how to act.
Like with the ‘spider on the dashboard’ scenario, when we react to situations before taking time to think clearly, we can create further problems and maybe even hurt others and ourselves. We also might be reacting based solely on our own interpretation, without taking all the facts into consideration, and this could lead to us standing in the street in our underwear – from where we will quickly need to backtrack and explain ourselves. The outcome will always be better if we remain in control. Things might happen that are unexpected and will throw us off course, but the choice to act or react always remains in our hands.
PS – it was a wasp that stung me.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline — 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)