The verse of the day is Proverbs 15:1. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The day was warm and inviting. While walking into my office I discovered that the yellow tulips near the entry had opened their petals wide to drink in the refreshing sunshine. I was able to see deep down into the heart of the beautiful flowers to the black parts that made such a striking contrast to the vibrant yellow. I smiled, greeted them back, and entered the door to begin another busy day of work.
The next day I arrived expecting to be welcomed again by my cheerful yellow friends only to be disappointed. They had their heads bowed and their petals closed up tightly to the world around them. That day was stormy and the sun had hidden its face behind dark rain clouds. Threatened by the impending weather, the blossoms did not feel safe and closed in an effort to protect themselves.
I couldn’t help but think how people are just like that. We respond to our environment. When the sun shines on our life, we open up to soak it in. But if we feel threatened by sharp words or dirty looks, we close down and do not let anyone in.
Dad and I experienced this when we first got married. For the first four years of our marriage we lived below a lonely and disgruntled woman. We didn’t see her much, but heard her often. Any time our music was too loud, our laughter rang out, or baby Luke cried too much, a storm cloud would let loose with thundering shouts and lightning. We were tempted to retaliate or move to a different location.
We decided to respond differently than our natural tendencies would direct. We did not yell back, but began to pray for her. We looked for opportunities to respond with gentle words and actions. Before leaving for the store, I would yell upstairs and ask her if there was anything she needed. If we met her in the hallway, we greeted her warmly.
This continued until Easter morning. We opened the door to go to church and found a bag hanging on the door handle. In it we discovered numerous baked goods and a card that wished us a Happy Easter! Where had this gift come from? You guessed it. The storm broke, sunshine prevailed, and a gentle answer turned away wrath.
I often wonder what happened to Jill, but I will never forget the lesson she taught us. People respond like flowers to a rainstorm. A harsh word stirs up anger while a soft one turns away wrath.
Hopefully the sun will be out tomorrow because I can’t wait to see the smiling faces of my friends, the tulips. May our kind words bring out the best in those around us. — Love Mama
Sandra Sheridan is a county resident and guest columnist.