Reflecting versus reacting

A child on a playground pushes another child, who promptly pushes back. An adult snaps at another adult, who spontaneously snaps back. A driver impatiently honks his horn, and another annoyed driver honks back. Reaction!

Not many of us can honestly echo Paul's words ''None of these things move me.'' n1 Many things do move us, disturb us, annoy us. Others act and we react, often with unhappy results. To avoid reacting with anger isn't easy, but it's essential to the maintenance of peace and poise.

n1 Acts 20:24.

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How can we deal with this cause of so much strife between children, adults, and nations? How can we bring healing to a situation instead of anger, resentment, or frustration, particularly when the provocation is unjust or even injurious?

An oyster sometimes covers an irritant with a pearl. We may not be able to turn an unpleasant encounter into something as lovely as a pearl, but we can refuse to allow it to build up into something ugly and harmful. We can refuse to be battle-scarred veterans of every verbal skirmish or mental collision. We can reflect God rather than react to others.

God, the one infinite divine Mind, doesn't react; He acts. And man, as God's image, reflects the divine action. In truth, there is no power or action apart from God to react to. This spiritual truth may seem abstract; but we can prove it to be practical and effective.

Mortals, influenced by the carnal, or mortal, mind, react to what they believe is a power or influence opposed to God, opposed to good. But God is really the only Mind governing man, and He governs him in perfect harmony. Prayer that's based on an understanding of Mind's supremacy, of the power of divine Truth over willful mortal thought, can heal reaction and conflict. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains, ''A patient under the influence of mortal mind is healed only by removing the influence on him of this mind, by emptying his thought of the false stimulus and reaction of will-power and filling it with the divine energies of Truth.'' n2 Will-power leads to reaction. God's power enables us to reflect, not react.

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 185-186.

If one were in a besieged castle, he would not let down the drawbridge across the moat separating him from his enemies. Reaction is the bridge that allows others' words or acts to get to us and rob us of our God-given peace and harmony. Even when the Master, Christ Jesus, was reviled, taunted, falsely accused, he didn't react. As his followers, we can strive to follow his example.

This is not to say that we don't take a stand for what is right when the demand arises. We can always act rightfully and courageously, as Jesus demonstrated when he drove the money-changers from the temple, rebuked the Pharisees, and fearlessly challenged every form of wrong-doing. The Master always acted in obedience to God. He didn't react to the temptations of evil.

Reaction is a hindrance to progress because it is a downward drag on thought, interfering with our receptivity to God's government. God requires us to reflect , or manifest, His nature, and that nature is harmonious, undisturbed. In truth, man is not a fleshly being responding to material stimuli, influenced by outside forces and conditions. He is spiritual, wholly governed by his Maker, obedient to Him, controlled by Him.

Accepting this divine fact, and coming to feel its truth through prayer, we can increasingly express perfect peace and poise. We can reflect God's nature and thus contribute a measure of peace to the world.

1 Acts 20:24. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 185-186. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethen, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers. . . . Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? I Peter 3:8-13

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