A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
This will probably be my last post on this particular subject, not because I have mastered this lesson, but because I am ready to focus on another lesson. But before we leave the subject of how to answer, I wanted to address "The Dreaded Silence." Now, ladies, we all know how to employ this tactic, and men, you have probably had to endure this at some point. "The Dreaded Silence" is also known as the silent treatment. And it is no answer.
Our mothers teach us that if we don't have anything nice to say, we should not say anything at all. But there are times when we, primarily women I think, pervert this saying into something that can be quite harmful. We get mad, or our feelings get hurt, and so we clam up. We don't speak to the offending party, or if we must speak to them, we use as few syllables as possible. But the fact is, this doesn't solve anything and usually stirs up anger. Our feelings of hurt, frustration, or irritation just grow as we keep them bottled up and unexpressed. They mount as the offended party does not read our mind and fix whatever problem has occurred. The one who our silence is directed toward becomes angry and frustrated at the admittedly juvenile treatment they are receiving. Silence is grievous.
Notice that the proverb says a soft answer turns away wrath, not a silent answer. Usually, when there is strife between adults, a conversation is going to have to take place to solve the problem. This conversation will happen in one of three ways; a quick, violent eruption, a long fused but equally explosive eruption, or a mature, reasonable discussion. The Dreaded Silence may stop the quick eruption, but often an eruption still occurs and it is usually more harmful for the time it has had to build. How much better would it be to quietly and calmly express ourselves to one another.
Friends, this is such an easy thing to type and such a hard thing to practice. I am prone to the quick and violent explosion. In my efforts to prevent this reaction, too often I have swung to the other extreme of The Dreaded Silence. The eruption that often results from this is hurtful to myself and others. The days of misery I add to myself are, well, miserable. I pray that I can have the strength, maturity, and grace to choose to react to strife with an answer. A quiet, reasonable, godly answer. A wise, kind, gentle answer. An answer full of truth and mercy. In short, a soft answer that would turn away wrath.