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React-ary or Respond-ary

I know, I know – there are no such words as, “react-ary” or “respond-ary” but bear with me for a moment because I do like the distinction between the terms.  A react-ary person acts within the context of whatever just happened. Someone talks loudly at her and she talks back loudly as well. In contrast, a respond-ary person responds on the basis of broader principles. This person acts with careful deliberation and thoughtfulness. Someone talks loudly at her and she remembers that a gentle answer turns away wrath. (Proverbs 15.1)

I recently went through a situation that really upset me. I felt like my integrity was being questioned and I had done nothing to warranted the innuendoes that were being suggested. In fact, I had gone far beyond what was expected of me in this situation and felt wonderfully about being able to serve this person for as long and as intensely as I had.

To be honest,  I’m a slow thinker. I’m not one of those people who are quick-witted or can respond with a sharp answer immediately ….(I’m thinking….) and for that, I am very thankful because if I was so oriented, I think I would probably have done far more harm than good with my words…

…but I was definitely hurt so although I chose not to react at the time, I did talk it over with a friend and she helped me think through the best way to respond. It’s interesting that “responsibility” IS a word. I think we do have the response-ability to slow down long enough to choose our response and in doing so, we can break the cycle of instinctive responses and/or wrong but well practised behavior.  I’ve learned that taking responsibility can really change the course of a conversation and a relationship.

The other dynamic I’m learning is that the time when emotions are strongly felt is seldom the time for one to be reasonable.  At the time this happened to me,  I didn’t say anything, I talked the situation over with a friend during the week that followed and now that it’s been over a week since the actual incident, I’ve had time to “reposition” myself – to assume the best of the person and to recognize that her hurtful words towards me are certainly not a pattern in our relationship.  Letting time pass has gifted me with a different perspective and I have chosen to overlook this offence.

Loud words are seldom wise ones.  

raise your voice


  1. Come on – tell the truth…are you “react-ary” or “respond-ary?”
  2. Can you think of a time when you you really blew it with your words? How did you feel after the fact?
  3. Does time help with healing? With forgiving? With grace?

speak truth: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  Colossians 4.6 ESV

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