Sunday, August 5, 2018

The power in a gentle response

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

As my wife left our home recently, off to worship practice one Sunday morning, even as she had just finished chiding me about my misjudgement of a situation about somebody else, she said, ‘And by the way you’ll get better results speaking [with our son] in a gentle tone than loudly; even a medium tone won’t be effective.’
With that, I locked the door behind her and went to the bathroom to think.
There is only a smattering of success in trying to motivate a five-year-old to get dressed and do all his jobs of a morning. As a parent you get sick and tired of repeating yourself. And like most parents my tone and volume increase commensurate with frustration. I was being reminded that just because I was barking orders didn’t make me more effective. It was a timely reminder.
This reminder followed another prompt that my wife had given me only minutes beforehand. I was becoming frustrated with how someone was treating me. But it was pointed out to me that they may only be responding in kind. And she was right. A further point was made. I don’t like it when I’m cornered, so it makes a great deal of sense that others don’t appreciate it when they feel cornered.
Feelings are important.
They may not be the truth,
the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth,
but they are a person’s truth.
Feelings need to be heeded.
If we don’t heed another person’s feelings
we tell them they don’t matter.
Putting these two matters together as I walked toward the bathroom I felt the nudge of God to own up. Again, I’d fallen for the trap of trying to control matters. Again, I was wanting things my own way, either not considering or disregarding others’ needs. Both situations, one with my five-year-old and one with an adult that hadn’t taken place yet, decreed the need for a response of power in gentleness.
Though these conversations with my wife are sometimes hard to hear, they’re often how God speaks to me through His perspective in the timeliest of ways. I had the opportunity to adjust my method with my son. I was also granted a freshened perspective regarding the other situation. God showed me that once again my ‘righteousness’ was actually self-righteousness cloaked in indignation. And besides, had I not owned up to my wrong of thinking I was right, my ‘righteousness’ may well have caused a wrong in the said relationship.
Proverbs has a word about gentleness:
‘A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.’
‘A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
(kind words heal and help)
but cutting words wound and maim.’
My take on these proverbs:
There is power in a gentle response,
but a coarse tone only produces frustration.
Power is paradoxical.
Use it and we lose it.
Be gentle and redeem great power.
The power of asking
overwhelms the force of telling.

Gentleness is the choice of wisdom. It is the shortcut to relational wellness. Every relationship prospers in the presence of gentleness.

No comments: