Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hope Discovers The Action of Non-Action

My husband is not a complicated man, yet he perplexes me and has done so for years.

I am a woman of action in most circumstances. If something needs to be said, I say it. Since I don't have much of a filter, that gets me into trouble sometimes, but at least the elephant in the room gets a 'shout out.' If something needs to be done, I don't wait for permission. I get to work. Sometimes I get bogged down because I see so many things that need my attention, but at least someone is doing something.

And then there's that laid-back, go-with-the-flow husband of mine who sometimes seems blissfully ignorant of the stress and problems that surrounds us. He's calm. He's patient. He smiles. He's content. He listens. He considers.

He doesn't react. And that has driven me crazy for years! To say that I have been befuddled is quite the understatement. I am animated enough for the both of us I suppose, but in some of the circumstances we've been in, I just could not understand for the life of me how he could just NOT react!

And then I met a Hindu and a Buddhist while in college in my religious studies courses. And I began to understand. Now I am no expert on these religions. Not even close. But over the course of a couple of semesters, I came to understand a little bit about the action of non-action. In Christianity, we have a similar teaching for this. James 1:19 says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

It's not non-action. It doesn't mean you don't do anything because you're lazy and apathetic. It's more like the 'action of non-action.' It takes discipline. It takes practice...for some of us, more than others. It takes a conscious decision. And it can be powerful.

My husband and I actually put this into practice together a while back. We had a situation arise, and we both made the decision to not engage. We chose to take the course of non-action. He took the lead because he is the more experienced one in this area. And I was simply astounded! I watched as situations unfolded and worked themselves out. There were times I wanted to intervene, but I chose not to. I did vent to some trusted friends, though. The weight of the world did not rest on my shoulders, and my stress level was minimal. It worked itself out before my very eyes! Now I prayed like crazy during this time, but chose not to act because it wasn't the right thing to do here.

Now is this how things normally happen when you choose the action of non-action? I don't know. I am new to this. Does this mean you should never react? I don't think so. I think there is a balance. I think discernment is needed.

As I look back on my parenting style, I realize I kind of did this with my kids. There were many times, I didn't react. I stepped back and let them learn on their own. I let them realize there were consequences to their actions. I let them learn responsibility. I let them learn social skills. But there were times I had to intervene. It took some practice, but I eventually learned when to act and when not to. My kids have turned out pretty good. I can't complain. I really can't.

So maybe I'm not too bad at this action of non-action after all, but I still don't hold a candle to my husband. There is hope for me, though I don't see myself choosing the action of non-action when I witness the injustices of referees on a basketball court. Baby steps. One thing photography has taught me is that I don't have to know everything or be perfect at everything, I just have to be better than last week. I think I might can manage that.

To actively act or to non-actively act...yes, that is the question. God, grant me the wisdom to know when to apply each in my life.

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