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Saying "No" to Overreacting - iBelieve Truth - April 5, 2024

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“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

The other night, I had a dream that I overreacted. In the dream, one of my kids came to me and confessed something they’d done wrong. Without taking a deep breath or thinking it through, I exploded in anger. The reverberation of my own yelling jolted me awake, and as my heart rate slowed, I thanked God it was only a dream.

The day after that disturbing dream, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Sure, I knew it wasn’t real; it had only been a dream, but it also caused old memories to surface. Memories of times past when I had overreacted to something my kids said or did. Times when frustration took over and I responded in anger instead of patience.

Honestly, I don’t like revisiting those memories. Guilt finds any open door to condemn us over past mistakes for which God has forgiven us. Yet I also want to share openly about my battle with overreactions because our testimonies are a powerful witness to God’s unending grace. 

The truth is, it’s hard to react in love and mercy as a parent when our kids do or say things that frighten us or cause worry. We want them to stay safe; we want to keep them wrapped securely under our wings until they’re able to fly on their own, and sometimes that fear or worry can lead to outbursts we never meant to have. I know firsthand how difficult it is to say “no” to overreacting and to replace our irritation with supernatural compassion and grace. But with God, victory is possible. This battle against overreacting is something we can approach with confidence if we first equip ourselves with powerful tools from God’s Word.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The Book of Proverbs is full of helpful truths for those of us who struggle with things like frustration, bitterness, or anger. Scripture not only guides us in our faith. It also gives specific directions to meet our specific needs. The Life Application Study Bible offers this commentary about the author of Proverbs 4, “Solomon instructed the young people of his day like a father giving advice to his child.” Like any good parent, Solomon knew how hard it would be to control what we say without first asking God to purify our hearts and “renew a steadfast spirit within us” (Psalm 51:10). 

In the process of living a wisdom-filled life, Solomon’s words implore us to guard our hearts first. He followed those words with sound instructions for other parts of our bodies, starting with our mouths. “Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:24-26). Before we can control our mouths, eyes, and feet, we must first align our hearts with God and his ways. 

This nugget of wisdom has been life-changing for me and my family, and I pray it will speak to you as well. Whatever I allow to fill my heart is what will overflow to the people I love. Once we realize the importance of guarding our hearts from unhealthy things, we can take steps to break the pattern of overreacting. Freedom awaits us, friends. Let’s allow the precious Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with good things that will flow like living water to everyone around us. Let’s pray this prayer together as we say “no” to overreacting:

Dear God,

Forgive me for times in the past when I’ve overreacted to situations out of fear, worry, or anger. Forgive me for any hurt I’ve caused. Help me to break free from overreacting with truth from your Word. Help me to guard my heart against things like frustration and anger. The more I allow the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with peace, love, and mercy, the more I will be able to pour out those things to the people in my life. You are a gracious and loving God. I open my heart and ask you to fill me today. With Jesus by my side, I can find freedom from the pain caused by overreacting. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/AntonioGuillem

For more spiritual growth resources, check out the 5-day email devotional, How to Be Free from Bitterness, by today’s devotion writer, Kristine Brown. Learn more about women in the Bible and find encouragement to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at Kristine’s website, morethanyourself.com.

Related Resource: Spring Clean Your Life: 10 Simple Tips for a Joyful Home & Work Life

Are you a Christian mom trying to juggle work and home? You're not alone! I'm Rebekah Scott, host of The Encourager Podcast, where I share insights gained from 15+ years of balancing family and running a business. My aim is to help you find harmony inall your important roles. Join me as we explore ways to create systems for success at home and work while keeping it real!

In this episode, we're simplifying spring cleaning with two easy tips for each of our five systems: Me, Food, Family, Work and Home. Join us as we explore practical ways to bring joy and simplicity into your home and work life! And if you love what you hear, be sure to subscribe on Apple or Spotify so you never miss an episode! 

Originally published Friday, 05 April 2024.