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Strong reactions. People have them. I have them, too. This week I came across some strong reactions that were puzzling to me because they seemed out of proportion to what was going on. Then I realized that sometimes when people get offended, it has very little to do with the actions of others (though I have been known to be quite offensive at times, so that's always a possibility). Many times when I get offended or react strongly to something, it has everything to do with me and my insecurities instead of something going wrong. The supposedly really horrible thing that someone has done or said was just the trigger.

At times like this, I remind myself of a few things:

1. I have no interest in undermining any one's authority or making anyone look bad. It is never helpful in any way. Neither am I willing to spend a lot of time and effort protecting or defending my own authority, position, or reputation. I will protect vulnerable people, yes, and I will not needlessly give away areas of responsibility and influence that have been given to me, but I will not demand that respect be paid to me because of some title, position, or right.

2. I am not great. Yes, I want to do something great with my life, and any of us might have moments when we touch largeness, some creative and generous brilliance, but it is fleeting. Greatness is most often found in small acts of kindness and sacrifice that no one notices. No one is really great. We are humans, flawed and prone to pride and fear. I hope I always maintain the ability to bow in front of real greatness: a self-sacrificing God, the smile of forgiveness from a child, or the fragile petals of a spring flower.

3. Humility erases offense. When in doubt about what went wrong, I want to be quick to say I'm sorry. When I feel slighted, let me graciously exercise thankfulness. When others blame me, may I be merciful with myself and with them. Humility goes a long way to reducing all kinds of stress and anxiety.

4. Keep focused on reconciliation instead of what went wrong. Forward is always the way I want to keep facing, not stuck in the past digging for definitive answers which don't exist anyway. A good grasp of the facts is good, but beyond that, I want to ask: What can I do right now to make this situation better for everyone? How can I bring love into the equation?

5. I would rather be at peace with myself (and my God) than in conflict in an attempt to maintain or improve my position and reputation. Let me pursue peace, inside and out, and walk in wisdom, refusing to make unnecessary adversaries.

6. Trust God ultimately. I will falter, others will fail me, and 'a sure thing' can fall apart. If I don't trust God, I will soon find myself in an unstable situation. He is my only rock.

After a bit of a shaky start, this has turned into one of the best weeks ever! I am at peace.

This is a picture of the moon tonight. It is one of those great things in life: beyond me.


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