Trigger Happy is Not Happiness At All

The more I see the world unfolding, the less persuaded I am that social media is entirely beneficial to it. Oh, there are obvious perks, to be sure. But nothing stands out to me more than one catchphrase that has become part of our national consciousness due to our connected culture.

Triggered.

And I see people getting triggered by literally anything. Things that they perceive as negative, derogatory, debasing, unvalidating. Whatever the trigger is debilitates their ability to cope or ignore or deflect.

A recent video reflected on how awful it was to say someone looks beautiful “for their age.” Now, this may not be my favorite way of giving a compliment, but I trust the person saying it is sincerely trying to say something nice to me. I don’t look for a hidden agenda in people’s remarks.

And guess what? I am rarely bothered by what people say. In Psalms is a nugget I cling to when triggered feelings rise:

Great peace have they which love Your law, and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165)

The word offend doesn’t really mean trigger. It means “to cause to stumble.” To get tripped up. To “incite to sin.”

Sometimes we take the kids hiking. For whatever reason, the trails we take have rocks imbedded in the path. And for the same unknown reason, my kids will often trip over these rocks instead of lifting a leg a little higher (why do big kids like shuffling?) or avoiding it altogether. Injury has happened on more than one occasion because they made the wrong judgment call. The beauty we ventured to see gets spoiled by our trip ups.

Photo by Alexandre Godreau on Unsplash

And with every comment someone makes or implies, I have a choice-let it “trip me up” or simply walk around it. Is the thing being said going to be what tears away my peace by reacting in sinful anger?

When I think about it in that way, I find that there are very few things that are worthy to “trip me up.”

What if, it turns out, we are majoring on the minor and missing the major? What if we get tripped up on the things that don’t make an eternal difference?

“But Leah, she said it in such a condescending way. You don’t know how she is…”

Here’s where I tend to fall in this area: if a person is throwing a compliment at me as a veiled insult, I will take it as a compliment. It really is the best response, because they don’t get the rise out of you that they wanted, and if they decide to explain that it wasn’t a real compliment, they look like a jerk. It is the principle of returning evil with good- and it works.

Photo by Braden Barwich on Unsplash

I refuse to dwell too heavily on anyone’s compliment or complaint. At the end of the day, when I close my eyes, God’s view of me is the only thing that matters. And since I belong to Him, He has some pretty great things to say.

Besides, reading into everything and getting triggered and offended by what you don’t like is simply petty.

The responsibility for your feelings falls only on one person- you. What you choose to dwell on (Phil. 4:8), the thought you take captive (2 Cor. 10:5) can shape your feelings; whether it is true or not. You give that power to another when you allow yourself to be triggered.

Besides the fact that the trivial things we blow up keep us from seeing true intention. I don’t have to agree with what was said or how it was voiced, but I can get the idea behind it and give grace that it wasn’t worded according to my preference. Not everyone is as eloquent as Shakespeare.

And here we return to that concept of grace. Extending grace means it isn’t necessarily deserved. It means that we don’t get a “free pass” to “speak our mind” just because we don’t believe in getting triggered. It means we treat people with the kindness of Christ, as we would like to be treated.

If more people, Christians included, lived focused on showing the kindness of Christ to others and not just expecting kindness from others the world would be a better place. If we could take our eyes off ourselves and see the big pictures life and ultimately the Gospel, pettiness would cease.

I don’t anticipate this post to alleviate any triggered individuals, but maybe we can stop and consider why we allow ourselves to be tripped up in anger so easily when we are called to peace.

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