“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
James 1: 19-20
My family call me hysterical. I remember my Papa scolding me for always raising my voice and throwing a tantrum in the middle of an argument.
I am a drama queen for a reason. Sometimes when I get very frustrated… I cry, go wild, and go on a quick defensive. I think it’s human nature. Didn’t William Shakespeare say, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
Most of the time, people don’t know how to deal with the deluge of emotions. And when that happens, I go out of control.
I remember when my dog, Binky, died by a Chow-Chow attack, I stormed the owner’s house ready to start WWIII. I demanded to see the owner. Scolded them on their carelessness and blamed them for the death of my baby. The woman, at a loss for words said in an irritated tone, “What do you want me to do?” I said, “There’s nothing you can do. I just want to talk… so listen to me!” And I continued to talk until I ran out of things to say. I cried… and totally exhausted, I started walking home.
My furious monologue was uncalled for, of course, regardless of the tragedy. But my raging emotions took me there and without anything substantial to say but to lay blame… I was eventually forced to surrender. My mom took over after I left and negotiated for them to pay for the anti-rabies shots for our yaya. Thinking about it, now, I know I could’ve been more productive if I did not bring my rage to the neighbor’s house. Luckily my mom was with me and she was being rational.
In the clinic, one time, we thought we had lost a wad of money that was meant to be deposited in the bank. I had my assistant set it aside in the weekend and come Monday she approached me and said, “Doc nawawala yung pera” (Doc the money’s gone). I panicked. We dug into the drawer and didn’t find it. During those times we had another dentist working in the clinic, part-time, and I tried to figure out if she’s capable of taking it. Towards the end I had to say it, “Tayong dalawa lang dito… if hindi ako, ikaw. Saan ang pera Monique?” (It’s just the two of us here. If it’s not me, then where is the money, Monique?).
Completely disgusted at what had said, I told her to leave me alone for awhile. It was a lot of money and I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly I thought to remove the entire drawer from its slot. I remembered that sometimes its contents fall behind the box and lo and behold, the envelope was there.
I remember calling Monique, showing her the money, and hugging her. She started to cry, “Doc di ko naman kukunin yung pera!” (Doc I would never take the money). And I said, “I know, I know… I’m sorry”. I know Monique and I should’ve been confident of how I knew her but I was quick to judge. I was desperate and so my mind got unnecessarily creative.
Responding vs Reacting
Once upon a time, our church pastor talked about the difference between responding and reacting–and explained it in terms of drugs and medications. He said that when patients react to medicines, it means that the chemicals brought about a negative effect on their bodies, such as increased heart rate, allergy, nausea, vomiting, and all kinds of awful things–so the doctor will say, “The patient is having a negative reaction to the medicine”. But when patients respond to medications, they begin to show signs of getting better and the report will say, “The patient is responding well to the treatment”. There is a very big difference between the two.
In terms of events that take place in your life, you have to always choose the positive route. Henceforth, you’ll need to respond and not react. Reactions tend to be impulsive. It’s raising your voice and screaming at someone because you feel irritated. It’s throwing an insult back at someone who’s humiliated you. And in the age of social media, it’s carelessly ranting on your wall–regardless of the massive audience. Reacting is not well-thought and it springs as fast as a violent rash would, after immediate exposure to a stimuli.
The pastor said, we should endeavor to respond rather than to react, because it means that you took time to assess the situation and check your emotions. It means that you paused to look around, so that you could respond appropriately.
Observing caution is always good, not just when crossing the street, but it’s important so that you can avoid all kinds of accidents. You stop so that you prevent yourself from making unnecessary movements; you look because you can easily miss something; and you listen, mostly to your heart.
Stop. Look. Listen.
Often times in our lives, we get tried and tested. We are faced with situations that are meant to shake us, and if we do not have control of ourselves, we can falter at the strength of our emotions.
You stop, look, and listen because at the peak of your emotions, the only thing that matters is that you are still in control. That you will not be overcome by pain, hurt, greed, anger, or any selfish emotion. You stop, look, and listen because I have seen how losing control can destroy the relationships you have. You stop, look, and listen–even if it’s hard and you try your hardest to uphold James 1:19
“Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Because you know what, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about giving in to my hysterics, it’s that the regret is real. When all is clearer and you have a better grip on things, you’ll realize that it was all for nothing.
So really, what’s the point?