Contributed by Faith Jackson

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

When I was a young mom, I had a routine I followed when it was nearly the end of the afternoon and I was expecting my husband home from work.  This may sound very “June Cleaver” to you, but I would have dinner ready, put on clean clothes (so I wouldn’t smell like baby spit-up), freshen up my makeup and hair, and even clean up the babies.  It was a great time for him to come in the door and for all of us to spend the evening together.

So imagine my hurt feelings when he came in one evening and said, “Wow!  Could any more toys even fit on the floor in here?  What a mess!”  I felt like lashing out to let him know that he was ungrateful to sound negative when I had worked so hard all day—dinner was ready, I smelled good, and the kids were well-cared for and smelled good.  Why did he have to mention toys on the floor?  If he wanted to, he could probably move the toys aside and safely eat off the floor underneath!  And the always popular “You don’t appreciate me!”

But, thankfully I didn’t.  I chuckled to myself that I briefly had a flare-up of bad thoughts.  Whew.  I was sure glad that I had kept a guard over my lips!  I was absolutely determined that my home would not resemble the home I grew up in.  I did not want to repeat the pattern of angry, volatile, and unhealthy relationships.  However, I think it’s not enough to just decide not to do something.  You have to have a strategy of something to do instead.

The next afternoon when I was expecting my husband to be home, I once again had dinner ready, I put on fresh clothes, freshened up my hair and makeup, but I also gathered all the toys from every corner of every room in the house.  I brought them all to the living room and entry area by the front door.  I distributed them evenly around the area.  Then, I sat back and waited for my husband to arrive.  It was worth all my effort, because when he walked in and saw all the toys strewn around, he immediately got the point that yes, indeed, we could get many more toys on the floor in here, and yes, he had been thoughtless the evening before.  I made my point without any discussion, and without any toxic, contagious anger!  We laughed and laughed together, which is so much better than arguing.

Like Proverbs 15:1 says, a soft answer will turn away wrath—and often, humor will solve problems without any difficulties at all.