When I was growing up one of the big things parents and adult figures would say to us kids was, “look both ways before crossing the street”. They engrained it in us so that we wouldn’t just “run out in traffic”. As I think about my life and faith today a similar principle has become something that I live by: “reflect before responding” and “reflect before moving”. In a similar way as looking up and down a street, if we fail to survey our environment and our own lives we run the danger of “running into traffic” with similar emotional results as the physical pain of actual automobiles.
First let’s talk about “reflect before responding”. Immediately my mind goes to conflict or harsh words. If we don’t pause in the midst of a tension filled time and think before we talk we will end up throwing gasoline on an already raging fire. The goal in conflict is not to passively give in but to reduce stress and tension so that an argument can dial down to “robust dialogue”/discussion. But I also think this principle of reflecting before responding comes into play with how many things we say “yes” to. If we would just reflect before responding to yet another request for our time and attention, we may be happier and more discerning in what we commit ourselves to, realizing that every yes is several “no’s” to other things.
The second phrase is “reflect before moving” and this may have a little more spiritual emphasis. I’m not sure what areas to grow in, what learning environments to pursue, what mentors to seek out and even what Bible practices to practice more diligently if I don’t stop and reflect. I’ve found that most of us are not aware of what is going on in our hearts. What is driving our behaviors and what really must be changed, surrendered or transformed in us. So what happens is we end up changing things that are really more surface or more symptoms and either become legalistic or frustrated because the change doesn’t really better our life or situation. By developing the regular and consistent practice of reflecting or thinking deeply about our lives we will be both more in touch with our own reality and better prepared to move forward.
Reflection is truly a lost art and one that will take time to cultivate in our lives but such a critical skill.