Healing Choices: Controlled by Circumstances or Character
By Rick Warren
— October 10, 2009
“It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities” (Proverbs 16:32 TEV).
When we say things like, ‘That makes me so mad…so sad…feel so bad,’ then we’re actually saying that circumstances control the way we feel. Yet, we do have a choice. We have the ability to make healing choices. We can choose to remain positive; we can choose to not let some circumstance ‘make’ us mad.
The ability to control our reactions, to handle hurt without retaliating is called meekness. Jesus promised, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NIV). Meek people control their reactions toward life and this gives them far more control over a situation than if they simply react.
If you are a meek person, you are no longer a victim. You control your choices. The best definition of meekness in the Bible is Proverbs 16:32: “ . . . It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities” (TEV).
During World War II, the noted psychiatrist Victor Frankl was a prisoner in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. He said, “They took my clothes, my wife, my kids, my wedding ring. I stood naked before the SS and I realized they can take everything in my life but they cannot take my freedom to choose how I will respond to them."
That is a freedom you will always have. How do I react? How do I choose to react to those people who hurt me?
Jesus says we will be blessed when we show self-control. You might be thinking, ‘That leaves me out! I can't control my reactions! I can't get them under control!’ The secret of controlling your reaction is letting God's Spirit fill your life moment-by-moment. He'll break all those bad habits, all those patterns of reacting, all those old ways of being negative, defensive--reacting in fear, in anger, in sarcasm. He can break all those old patterns in your life and fill your life with power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
Some of us are stressed out by life, by circumstances, by relationships. What do we need more than anything else? We need to develop the quality of meekness; the quality of controlling our reactions by the Spirit God has placed in us.