“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1”
Another translation says,
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” NIV.
Allow me to tell you a little story. It’s kind of lengthy, but it involves government bureaucracy, so there is no way to make it short and simple. Recently I placed a simple business phone call to ask a simple question. (I won’t bore you with the details, but it concerns the common ordeal of the annual worker’s comp audit, blah, blah, blah – I just needed to verify that the request for sensitive employee information came from a viable company). But, instead of just answering the question, he asked me to verify who I was before they would verify the name of the company who was verifying the verification; I became verifiably annoyed!
I took the extra half minute that it took me to go to the file cabinet, pull the file folder, and rifle through the papers inside, to give him the benefit of my superior opinion on the absurdity and meaningless waste of my time in this process. (I think he was very grateful for my input .)
This unsuspecting young man was the recipient of my ‘boiling pot simmering dangerously close to spilling over’ on this day that had too many duties to fit within the allotted hours. It really wasn’t that ugly, but you get the picture. I was venting my frustration on an innocent person, who just happened to pick up the phone that day, and if he said the wrong thing in the wrong tone of voice, I’m afraid, it would have been like pouring vinegar on baking soda, and my pot would have bubbled ferociously over into a messy, molten mass!
What do you think happened? Do you think he put into practice his fifteen minutes of on-the-job, the-customer-is-always-right-customer-service-training? Did he push me over the edge by calling me “Ma’am”? Did he fake a poor transmission on the line, and snicker as he ‘accidentally’ disconnected me? Did he suddenly get another call and place me on hold? Did he pretend to be a recording and recite with an electronic voice, “If you would like to talk to someone who cares, press one.” I don’t have to tell you what might have happened if he had just decided to stir the pot a little bit. Instead, he used gentleness to create peace, to eliminate strife, and to diffuse wrath.
Well, I don’t even remember what he said, I just remember the effect of his words. He patiently listened to me and let me finish my helpful instruction on how his company should have gone about this request. . . ahem. . . okay, okay I admit it was a mild tirade. Whatever he said, it was gentle . . . and immediately he diffused my annoyance, and I replied, “You know, usually I’m the one listening to frustrated people, and I didn’t mean to take it out on you. Thank you for your assistance. You have been very helpful. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.”
When I got off the phone, I sat in stunned amazement at what had just occurred. This young man had completely turned my attitude around by his response.
Proverbs 15:1 is true, a gentle answer turns away wrath.
My frustration and annoyance were completely gone. They had disappeared. He had calmed the combustible cauldron!
In chemical terms, energy cannot be destroyed, it just changes forms. In other words, wood burns into carbon dioxide, water and ash, producing heat, in an engine, gasoline and oxygen turn into energy, producing propulsion, and a harsh answer combusts into anger, producing strife.
Conversely, a soft answer eliminates wrath. Where did it go? Energy cannot be destroyed, so where did the energy of the wrath go? It turned into a positive force of energy called peace. Now, you might think peace is just the absence of strife, or a zero-energy emotion. – Not so. Peace is a river. Peace surpasses understanding. Peace is a commodity that if I could bottle, I could sell for a huge profit.
This young man’s attitude actually nullified my previous peevishness. Suddenly my day turned peaceful. What had previously been stressful, because of his response now became peaceful.
Peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18).
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
Blessed are those who sow gentleness, for they will turn away wrath. (My paraphrase of Proverbs 15:1)
So, wives, how are you using your ‘gentle power’?
The power of gentleness, is the power to turn away wrath and replace it with peace.
Wow! What awesome power you have over the attitude and climate in your home.
Try it the next time your husband comes home and seems a bit ‘wrathful’, frustrated, annoyed, unfairly critical or complaining. Use your gentle power to give a soft answer, with a smile thrown in for good measure. Watch the combustion, as the wrath diffuses, and peace pervades like an aroma, a fragrance of gentleness and goodness (instead of the burned and charred remains of the boiling over molten mass of wrath and harsh words!!)
Hungry for peace and gentleness? Yum!!
Have a peaceful and gentle new year!
Won Without Words by Shari Popejoy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at blog.wonwithoutwords.com.
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