Archive for March 13th, 2014

“For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.”

Most likely, you learned Newton’s third law of physics in school as it related to physical objects.  A swimmer pushes against the water, pushing it back while the water pushes against the swimmer propelling her forward.

But Christian Psychologist Richard Dobbins of Emerge Ministries likened this to what happens in a person’s emotional life. When aar125494496947596 problem pushes against us, we react to it with equal force. Take the Biblical account of Ruth for example. After her husband died in Moab, she was faced with a decision to leave Moab with Naomi or to stay in her homeland. Read the account in Ruth Chapter 1

Naomi became an exertional force, trying to talk her two daughters-in-law into staying in Moab. Naomi was angry at God, depressed, grieving – displaying very strong raw emotions at leaving Moab. After all, she had lost a husband and two sons there. She feared she was about to lose everything else when she returned to Bethlehem because she had no grandsons to inherit her dead husband’s property. Her emotions were running VERY deep.  With that same depth of emotions she tries to push her daughters-in-law away, even though she desperately needs them to stay with her.

Now look at the girls’ reactions. Naomi didn’t have to push very hard to get a response from Orpah. The young woman reacted quickly by  running back to her family – almost without hesitation and with great relief evident in being “freed” from her ties to Naomi. She was as anxious to get away from this bitter old woman as Naomi seemed to be to push her away.

But Ruth reacts by pushing back with equal force against Naomi’s emotional attempt to push her away. The more vehement Naomi became that Ruth should stay in Moab, the more determined Ruth became to stay with her mother-in-law. Both girls displayed this law of physics, but with different end results.

For those who have been hurt by abuse, grief or loss, emotions run deep. We tend to react to a lot of situations based on those deep emotional scars when a new situation triggers these old fears and feelings. This could be one reason we over react. The current problem might not be so big, but years of built up/pent up emotions cause us to blow it  up out of proportion. We end up erupting all over everyone around us.

Others learned to hide their hurts well. They also react in inappropriate ways  – by minimizing their emotions  and giving in to avoid a conflict or deeply emotional reaction, even if the current situation warrants it; even if it hurts them. While it may look like they are under reacting to the situation on the surface, they most likely are over reacting by doing some major damage to their own hearts.

As you look at the way you react to situations and people in your life – is your reaction to them proportionate to the situation or the problem? Do you over react or give in too quickly?  Why do you think you react the way you do? Ask the Lord to teach you new ways of dealing with  so that you can react appropriately to situations or people instead of over or under reacting to them.


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