When I was a kid, everyone loved school fire drills. When that buzzer rang, we knew that we would get to ditch our lessons and head outside. Heck, sometimes we even got to see a fire truck! By the time the drill was over and everyone was back in order, there was usually not enough time to finish what we had been working on, so we had a bit of free time before the next class. Free time was always a treat in elementary school!
The one thing I remember about the fire drills, besides the welcome interruption, though, is my teacher telling us to WALK! Don’t run! to the nearest exit. Now, I know there is a very logical reason for this. When we run in panic, we risk being hurt even more than if we stay calm and respond with cool purpose. Our human instinct is to take “flight” when we are afraid or panicking when there is a threatening situation. If we hear someone yell ”FIRE”, we might very well be inclined to bolt out of the dangerous situation. Tragedies are reported often about needless deaths due to panic. In other, less life threatening areas of life, I liken this to my knee-jerk reaction. I just ACT! Now. I don’t think more than a second, if at all. I just act.
I see a direct application of this life instruction to “WALK! Don’t run!” to our current life challenges and decisions. How many times, when faced with a tough decision, do you “knee-jerk”? How many times before giving your answer to someone do you say “I’ll let you know in a day or two after I’ve had a chance to think it over”? Not as many as you would like, I suspect. How many times have you regretted giving an answer right away because you decided upon later reflection that you really didn’t want to do it at all? Personally, being far too “Minnesota nice”, I have given a knee-jerk “yes” to many things I truly didn’t want to commit to.
The bottom line is this: when we WALK! Don’t run! into decisions and fearful situations, we are much more likely to arrive safely on the other side. The flames may be on the other side of the door, but by thinking through what to do, we can exit through the right door… the safer door.