In our house we conclude our day with the same questions, “So where did you see the light of Jesus today?” and “Where was it missing?”

Not quite nine year old daughter, “There was just too much trauma on the softball field today.”

Tween-dom daughter, “You mean drama.”

“Yeah, well, whatever, but Sue is not nice on the field and she’s not nice to the new girls.”

Mother, well into her 40th year, “So what did you do?”

A friend of mine asked Dallas Willard what was one thing we could do to help our children usher in the reality of the kingdom. I was told he said, “Teach them to reflect, not react.”

It only takes a quick trip to the grocery store to witness and even engage in a whole cacophony of reactions.  I’m there for three things, but my belly is growling, I react, and leave with a small truck load of Oreo s. The father on aisle ten looks tired and harassed; his son is talking continuously about a new video game, the father reacts, and snaps, “Shut up, for one minute just shut up.” Older woman at the checkout didn’t get the price for tomatoes she wanted; she reacts and takes her discontentment out on the checker. Don’t get me started about the drive home.

The thing about reflection is it takes time. In a busy society the one thing no one has is- time. But without reflection we’re swinging from one reaction to another. We’re swing from drama to trauma.

To reflect instead of react takes some training, for sure, and when the tide is high and grace is all you’ve got, you might find it’s enough. (Define grace as the action of the Holy Spirit.)

Training our children and ourselves to reflect not react looks something like this-

  • Start with sight.  In the evening look back over your day. “When did you imitate the light of Jesus?”  and “Where was it missing?”
  • Practice pausing… when you get those cues in your body, (for me my mind begins to race, and I use the word hurry a lot), begin pausing. Pause before you speak, pause before you make a decision, pause before acting. Write the word “Pause” on your hand as a reminder.  Try walking with your hands gently clasped behind your back. It’s hard for me to run or to be in a hurry in this position.  Make genuine eye contact when speaking to others.
  • Try a little reflection talk, ask yourself, “Where will this action take me?” “Will this move me toward Jesus or away?”

(Continued conversation)

Fearless catcher daughter, “Well, I thought about it. And if I yell back at her, she would yell back at me, and then it’s just more trauma. So I ignored her and made friends with the new girl.”

Everybody is headed somewhere and I’m convinced we can train to be intentional about where.

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