Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
It had happened again! I had received a text from my son, and soon the texting conversation had turned into a phone call that had both of us being angry and hurt. I know that neither of us wants this ongoing battle, we love each. Yet, here I was again, sad, frustrated and wondering How Did I Get Here? Have you ever been there? A person you care about, someone you love, that you never want to see hurt, and that you know feels the same about you, and despite that you have just both hurt each other? Sadly, for a very long time this scenario was repeated over and over again. We just were not connecting, despite the love we had for each other. I would pray to God for wisdom of what to say that showed my love, and then it would happen again. I kept thinking about and asking God, How Did I Get Here?
The above scripture says “A gentle answer” the dictionary meaning of gentle describes it as “moderate in action”. The meaning of moderate is average in amount. Then it happened, after praying God reminded me, most people care more about you hearing them, then hearing what you have to say. You are in control of your answer and sometimes no answer is the best answer. If I did not want to be constant battle with my son, I needed to be gentle, moderate in action, by saying less or nothing at all. Using words that deflect, change the the direction of conversation. When I became hurt by something he said, that likely was said out of frustration, I would deflect, not react. I learned a key question to ask, one that showed I was listening and could change the direction of the conversation. The question is WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH BY THAT STATEMENT? It causes the person to stop and think. It is a gentle answer, or response to his words. I have also learned that the scripture that says to bridle your tongue, also refers to bridle your fingers. (as in your texting.) I do not need to respond at all to text messages especially ones that are sent to provoke an argument. The truth is, sometimes the people we love the most and know that we do, will express their hurt from the activities of their day towards us. We are in control of the wars we want to go into. We can decide for ourselves if we want to engage or not. Sometimes the battle is not a good idea because no matter what, someone loses in a battle. I love my son and I love me, I never want either of us to be a loser. So I do not go into battle with him. I have also learned to set boundaries of what I will accept, that show my love for me. When people say things that are not acceptable or abusive I do not engage. When they are someone that I want to continue to have a relationship with, I go back and express my hurt to them. I do not do this while they are still angry. At that time my words are pointless, they are not in the right space to receive them, the are too self absorbed. When I have come back later and told the person how hurtful their words were, they have been apologetic. On occasion when they have not been remorseful, I have had to evaluate for myself if they are worth having in my life, because they are not showing that they care about me.
This change has worked. I am happy to say that over the last while I have not finished a conversation with my son, thinking How Did I Get Here?