Did you know that all life is stimulus and response?
In Biology class, we were taught that living things respond to stimuli. Response to stimuli is one of the signs that an organism is alive. A stimulus is simply a change in an organism’s environment. One thing you need to know is that, the organism doesn’t choose what stimuli should happen in the environment surrounding it. The role of the organism is to respond, that is to adjust itself.
Likewise, we live in a world full of events. Each day has its own events and we have no control over what happens around us. The good news is that; we can control how we respond to the events around us.
The late Stephen R Covey said that, I am paraphrasing, between stimulus and response, there is a small gap. In that gap we have an opportunity to make a choice. To choose a response to this stimulus.
For example, imagine you are leaning back on your sofa after a long day at work. Your 4-year-old son passes by with a glass of water and accidently topples and the glass of water falls down, breaking the glass and spilling water on you.
That is a stimulus you didn’t call for right there. You were having a good time relaxing and there it came, without even warning you. Between that stimulus and your response to it, there is a very short moment for you to choose how to respond.
You know what, most people wouldn’t respond well to such a stimulus. Many people would get up and ask angrily if this toddler has eyes or not, they would yell at them with all sorts of words. And yet there are a few people, who would use that space to choose their response well, they, with a calm voice will say sorry to their toddler and help them clean up the mess they have caused and ask them to be careful next time.
Many things happen to us daily, and we need to learn to always choose the right responses. Your role is to choose your response and not the consequence of your choice.
In our example with the 4-year-old, if you respond harshly by throwing words at him, you will create fear in him which can affect his self-esteem till adulthood. But, if you are kind to him, then the outcome will be better. He will learn how to be careful always.
Currently, many things are happening around us. Things like lockdown, sickness, deaths, lack of money and many other things. All this is outside our control as humans. We can only choose how to respond to them. We can choose to be depressed and worry about how we are all going to die or we can choose to respond by looking to God and what He has said to us in His Word. We can choose to have a better perspective, one which is informed by the Word of God. We can respond by praying more and studying our Bibles more.
You can choose to focus on the broken glass and the spilt water or you can choose to focus on your child by speaking words of affirmation to him. Telling him how he is an awesome boy and he can always be more careful and do better.
Romans 8:6 says “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”. You have a choice to make. You can focus on the world or you can focus on God and His Word. Where your focus is, will determine your response when different events come your way in life.
Choose to focus on God and His Word, and then as the verse above has said, you will experience life and peace. You will also be able to respond appropriately to the events of life.