Welcome to the 14th habit in the #GiveMe30HabitProject!!
See this post for all the details and backstory!
This month’s habit is to implement a “filter” for your responses to others!
This month’s habit challenge is designed to help you respond with grace and kindness to those around you—regardless of how you feel or what the situation looks like! 😳
So I realize this is kind of a strange habit project choice, but I feel like it is going to make sense once I explain further! Because part of our healthy habits involve others and relationship building, and I have not done as many challenges on that topic, I think it is a welcome change. I’ll admit, I was not sure how to approach this. I kept asking the Lord if I was supposed to do this as a blog post or a habit project, and kept coming back to it needing to be part of the #GiveMe30Challenge.
Technically I did a very similar type of challenge (find it here), only it was geared towards speaking words over oneself, so it makes sense that I also include a similar challenge to get you in the habit of responding to graciously to others as well.
I loved this devotional by titled The Surprising Love of a Kind Wife. The concept is not limited in application to a spouse; really can apply to the love of a friend, coworker, mother, etc., not just a wife. The Lord pricked my heart about the same thing recently. It seems that the ones we love the most often get the brunt of our, *ahem*, true selves. They get the leftovers and the most raw parts of us and that just isn’t right. Not that we should really be acting that way to anyone, but the ones who we are closest to should get the best—we are called to serve and minister faithfully at home first and foremost. The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that I am not very diligent about guarding my reactions in this manner. When He pricked my heart, I felt like He gave me a way to filter my attitude in these types of situations. Thank You Lord for giving solutions when convicting me!! So what was the solution? I’m glad you asked!
When I am not as likely to be loving and gracious, I choose to filter my response by asking the question:
How would I respond right now if someone else was watching us?
Then choose to respond in that way.
I mean it makes so much sense right? We always act better when we know someone is watching The truth of the matter is that when we are out in public, I react so much more graciously then when I know there’s no one listening. And it’s also true that God is always listening and ideally, at some point I want to get to a place where my reaction is the best possible regardless. The main concern for me is that my attitude towards my husband can make or break his countenance as he goes out into the world and impacts others. I have a responsibility to steward that impact well. Those two things are where the heart of my decision to respond graciously should lie. I should operate out of wanting to honor the Lord and have the most positive impact on the world. Even—and especially—when I don’t feel like it.
“And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26b
One point of clarification I want to make is that this isn’t about how we appear in the eyes of others or our spouse, it is about having the right heart and attitude even when nobody is around. So even using this filter when no one is around to see how lovely you react is important. It’s not about been “seen” but about truly trying to renew our mind and behavior. So even when you are home alone and you think those frustrating thoughts about your spouse or others—even then—you need to react with all the grace and love that you would as if you were on display for all the world to see. I mean, certainly I’m not the only one who has ever grumbled negative words to the empty house about someone, only to realize it is as harmful to the relationship as if they were there and immediately regretting it. The words you speak to them directly or indirectly both have life or death.
“Kind words are like a life-giving tree, but lying words will crush your spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
At the end of it all, I think it comes back to shifting our focus from ourselves to others and humility to recognize we don’t know everything. That is a very hard thing to do. It is so easy to see a perceived injustice on our end and not be as gracious because of it. I have stuck my foot in my mouth many times thinking I knew why the other person was behaving the way they were only to find out I had made a false or misinformed assumption. Reacting with grace avoids foot-in-mouth syndrome as well. 😂
“Love is patient and kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4a
Even though it is about having a positive impact on others, this process will transform you into a more gracious, loving, positive, and encouraging person.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
One last useful tool… This devotional titled The Power Of A Pause has a great breakdown to understand how implementing a pause is helpful! Because, while we are still yet becoming that improved more gracious version of ourselves, it is sometimes only possible to react well if we press pause on the knee-jerk emotions before choosing how to proceed. I love the acronym P.A.U.S.E. outlining practical actions steps for the implementing the full power of taking a pause that the author, Laura Bailey, gives.
“Don’t be quick to get angry, for [only] fools nurse anger.” Ecclesiastes 7:9
OK, so now that you have an idea of what the habit looks in practice and the benefits of practicing it, it’s your turn! You don’t have to do every single one of these, but these are some ideas for you to implement.
For the next 30 days:
- Every day for the next 30 days, when you are tempted to respond with little patience, with emotional lability, and/or on the defensive, practice pausing and responding as politely and kindly as you would when others are around.
- Practical Tips: Try to be as genuine and sincere about it as possible; you want to begin to renew your mind permanently so that you react this way automatically. Think about not only what you are saying, but how you are saying it.
- Note how you feel after responding with grace and kindness instead of emotionally, annoyed, and/or harshly.
- Practical tips: Call these feelings to mind whenever you don’t feel like following through on your habit.
- Ask a friend or your spouse to join you in this habit.
- Practical tips: Check in with one another and share your ideas and struggles so that you can help each other stay excited about the habit.
- Come up with a list of circumstances when you are most likely to react harshly, and practice how you might respond with love instead.
- Practical tips: Review the list an rehearse how the conversation could go.
- Find scriptures that align with this new habit.
- Write them out in your journal or on post-its around the house and meditate on them daily.
- As the month goes on, see if you can identify ways in which practicing the habit makes your quality of relationships, mood, and sense of peace better.
- Practical tips: Come up with ways to make sure you continue to practice this habit moving forward past the 30 days!
Don’t forget to share this project with others! You can share the link to this blog post as a status/post on Facebook. Feel free to save and use the image from this post, or use the ones I’ll have on my Instagram page. Whatever other means you have to get more involvement will make this project more fruitful! Tweet, email, pin on Pinterest, etc.
Also, I encourage you to keep track of your journey and use the hashtag #GiveMe30HabitProject on social media. Please tag me in your habit progress and insights! I’ll also be glad to troubleshoot sticking points. I’m Kaci M Byrd Cheeseman on Facebook and @CheeseGirlPA on Instagram.
If you want to check in daily for accountability, you can post either a photo and/or status and use #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day1, #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day2, so on and so forth. I’d love to see how it goes and repost—only if you give me permission, of course! I’ll be searching the hashtag to see who is joining in.
1/ Do you have a good filter for responding kindly?
2/ How do you prevent reacting with your first feeling/emotion?
Remember: What is it you want to achieve? Who do you want to become? How do you want to serve others? You may not know how to get there, or even how to get started. I just ask that you trust me and help spread the message to others so they can become involved. Keep showing up, and together we will get you there, one 30 day habit at a time!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!!
P.S. If you are interested in working on a specific habit and need someone to help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated, and hold you accountable, I offer coaching a variety of ways, which you can learn more about here.
My specialty is habit change and my approach is to work on mindset alongside the habit, so that it is healthy and sustainable, and this is best done via 1:1 Coaching which you can learn about here. Whether it involves your health, finances, nutrition, exercise, relationships, or personal growth, habits are the key to success. We are the outcome of what we repeatedly do. Without addressing that, there can be no change. Learn more here!