How much stress, disappointment or anger could be avoided in our lives if we chose to respond, rather than react, to a person? Would it be OK if we chose peace, wisdom and love instead?

Each time we choose to pause and take a breath, we allow ourselves to respond from the presence of God that resides within us. We allow ourselves to move beyond the outer evidence of the person who is bothering us to the reality of the God-self, and make the choice to see the divinity in the other.

As we employ spiritual methods for dealing with stressful situations in our relationships with others, responding happens instead of reacting.

In situations where there is pressure and conflict, there are differences of opinion. In many situations, people do the wrong things for the right reasons or the right things for the wrong reasons.

Who, though, is to judge which is right and which is wrong? The Bible gives us this teaching in the book of John, chapter 7, verse 24 (RSV): “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with the right judgment.”

How do we do this? We get to choose to judge rightly, according to the God standard, rather than by our human standards (ego) of personal opinion. Right judgment will always, and in all ways, relate to the divine potential in each of us, rather than the human limitations that we express.

Each time we become angry because of something someone else has done, or we become embarrassed because of something someone else has said, or we feel hurt because of something someone else hasn’t done, we are giving our power away to another.

The reality is no one else can make us angry. No one else can cause us embarrassment. No one else can hurt our feelings. We – you and I – choose to allow the actions of another person to cause us to react, and this is our choice. And, as we become aware that we are giving others the power to determine our thoughts and feelings, we get to choose to refuse to allow the actions or words of others to cause or create stress, disappointment or anger in our lives.

Very often our difficulties with other people are the result of us reacting to what they have said or done, rather than letting our own inner being listen to the voice of Spirit within us until we come up with the right response.

How much stress, disappointment or anger we could avoid simply by remembering that we do not have to react to others! Rather, we can respond from our own innate divinity to choose … and we can choose peace, wisdom and love.

Rev. Therese Donlan Lee is the senior minister of Unity Spiritual Center on Hilton Head Island.