This past week has involved a lot of drama… Drama from me as I yelled at my kids over little things because I was extra busy. Drama from my kids as they, sensing my attitude, seemed to yell at each other. Drama from various women as they are “fighting” with other women, and for various reasons I was consulted as a judge, moderator or consoler. So all this drama has really made me examine our interactions.
In doing so, I was reminded of a Bible Verse that my oldest son and I had memorized several years ago as he was struggling with his reactions to some peers who were making him angry. They would say things to him that they knew would get him mad just to get a reaction. Things like, “Oh look, here’s the book you should get.” That was said at a school book swap while pointing to a Dora book – the message to a third grade boy of course being that “You are a baby.” How did my son respond? He yelled at them and then began ripping the book. (Sounds extreme, I know but remember he does have asperger’s, and these were boys that often ridiculed him to get him to react.) So, anyway there was a lot of that going on. During that time, I had stumbled upon this Bible Verse:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
We talked a lot about how the word “answer” implies that this is talking about how we respond to others around us. The word “wrath” implies that the others already are angry for whatever reason. So the question is, do we want to turn that wrath away or stir it up? My son and I have spent hours rehearsing responses to various situations… ways to offer a gentle answer. “You know what? My 3-year-old brother would love that book, thanks for showing it to me!”
I wish I could say that he has learned to always offer a gentle answer… it is still a working process. But on those occasions that he does, the situation is definitely diffused. And in remembering the verse this week, I’m convicted of the tone of my voice when I respond to my children’s behavior. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” When I am calm and clear, the situation usually doesn’t escalate.
I also think that we as adults need to remember this for our interactions with each other (both face to face and through email) as well. Let’s remember to respond with “gentle answers” instead of “stirring up anger.”