“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain
Bible scholars believe the word “selah” in the Bible to have several meanings: one is “to measure or weigh in the balances.” and another is a “voluntary and intentional pause for reflection.” Pause to reflect before reacting is a powerful tool if we use it.
We are angry. Someone made a comment that cut us to the quick. Or someone pulled off a scab from an old wound. We decide that this action demands a response. How different would the outcome be if we paused to think and reflect before responding? Most people would agree that it makes sense to pause and reflect, especially when you are angry. It only takes a few seconds, but it is difficult to pause because we have a knee-jerk reaction to defend ourselves.
Pausing the conversation or situation is better than acting in a way you will later regret. Taking a step back allows time to analyze your emotions and think before you react. It’s human nature to react before we think.
When one looks through the Bible for people who pause and reflect, Mary comes to mind. Throughout scripture, Mary isn’t described as just reacting or responding. Rather, she is often portrayed as ‘pondering’ and ‘reflecting.’ For example, after Jesus was born, the shepherds came to pay Him homage and told her what they had heard about this newborn king. I wonder how she must have felt after giving birth and then having everyone flock to see Jesus knowing how special this child would be. In scripture, Mary didn’t respond or react to the visitors. Instead, she reflected. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV) Luke 1:29 (NIV) says, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” And Luke 2:51 (NIV) adds, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”
Throughout her life, Mary took this approach of pausing and reflecting on what was going on around her. Instead of reacting to each new situation, she continually brought her concerns to God in prayer and let Him take the lead.
It is good advice to pause and reflect before reacting. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When tempted, pause. When stressed, pause. When seeking God’s will, pause. And whenever you pause, pray.
There is power in reflection. There is power in the pause. Whether you’re dealing with professional, social, or relational issues, reflection is better—100% of the time—than reacting.
- If I knew my conversations with others were being videotaped and then shown to people I greatly respect, how would this change my reaction?
- How do we install a mental pause button this week?