Rev. Dr. Chuck Moffett
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher, also was a Holocaust survivor from Auschwitz. It was that experience at Auschwitz which caused him to write:
“The experiences of camp life show that humanity does have a choice of action. There were enough examples….which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Humanity can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
…everything can be taken from a person but one thing: – the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way…
…Fundamentally, therefore, any person can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of them – mentally and spiritually….It may remain brave, dignified, and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation they may forget their human dignity and become no more than an animal.
When we are no longer able to change a situation….we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, commented: “…when we stand back from ourselves…when we are not so attached to our thoughts or our knee-jerk reactions, we can find the space we need to choose the way we want to act or the words that would be most helpful.”
Today we find ourselves bombarded by so many stimuli that often we find ourselves reacting in destructive patterns, rather than responding in ways that encourage understanding, growth, and compassion for the benefit of all involved.
As Frankl suggests, when we intentionally take the “space” between the stimulus and our response, choices are made which create opportunities of “win/win” rather than “win/lose.” My prayer for all of us is that we will allow God’s Spirit to help us take the necessary “space” in our relationships to foster reconciliation instead of revenge, healing instead of hurt, grace instead of greed, and service instead of slavery. It is within each of us to make a CHOICE.