Friday, March 30, 2012

A GENTLE ANSWER

"A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up."
~Proverbs 15:1

How true this is! Let's face it ~ we all have moments of conflict. It can spring up between strangers, acquaintances, old friends, and the people we are closest to, our family. It cannot be avoided. I know. I despise conflict of any kind. But I no longer fear or run away from it. The more I face it head on, the more I learn the do's and don'ts for healthy conflicts.

Here's what I am discovering ~ as long as I am in a defensive mindset, determined to get my point across, I only fuel the fire. This is how I naturally respond. But I don't have to. On those rare occasions when I use a gentle answer in the midst of a conflict, this supernatural reaction has a softening affect on both parties. And the need to be right and to justify myself loses its appeal.

That said, there have also been times when a gentle answer didn't do a lick of good. The other party continued to stew over whatever the issue was. I am realizing that I cannot control how someone else responds. I can only control my own attitude and behavior.

Sometimes I forget that the spirit of division is very much alive and well, and loves nothing more than to create discord and rifts in relationships. How easily we play into its hands! We make a big deal over a small incident. We harbor anger and resentment. We judge mercilessly. We speak unkindly behind each other's backs. We hold our head up high, acting as if we are somehow better than the other person. We refuse to forgive and forget. Yes, this spirit of division has an easy job. We fall for its tactics time after time.

How sad. Life is too short ~ way too short to live in discord over petty stuff. I challenge all of us (mainly myself!) to do something radical today ~ like forgive whether we think the person deserves it or not...extend a hand of kindness to someone who's wronged us...keep our mouths shut when they are on the brink of speaking harshly...move on and embrace those in our lives with unconditional love  ~ the love that God gives to us, and tells us to, in turn, extend to others.

Feeling a bit convicted? I know I am. That's okay. Life is made up of one lesson after another. Maybe we blew it yesterday. We can learn from our mistakes and strive to make today a better day.  This sweet journey can be so much richer and enjoyable if we learn to respond gently and thoughtfully in the midst of our conflicts. A gentle answer does quiet anger...and judgment...and discord...and division ~ and invites restoration...and reconciliation...and healthier, happier relationships. Sounds good to me!

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs."
~Charlotte Bronte

"Our anger and annoyance are more deterimental to us than the things themselves which anger and annoy us."
~Marcus Aurelius

"In a quarrel, leave room for reconciliation."
~Russian Proverb

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Watch out for each other. Love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it!"
~Jim Henson


     

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