Pondering the Principles of Proverbs
Therefore, I think I may have a little light to shed on the concept.
For instance, one night I was out walking, as was my habit as a teenager, and car filled with the neighborhood bullies stopped. Ronnie Jones jumped out and proceeded to "call me out." When I didn't respond, he whirled me around and put me in a choke hold. I went limp rather than fight. He let go, calling me a name and got back in the car as they left.
Black eye avoided.
Reputation for being a sissy enhanced.
Because I am the sensitive type, I was the target for bullies all through school. I got into some scraps, but avoided more than I participated. Usually, however, it was at the expense of having the aforementioned reputation strengthened.
It wasn't until years later that I realized I was actually practicing what is considered wisdom, and that I was, in reality, coming from a place of strength.
How often do you find yourself in a confrontation with someone?
How often do the words get heated?
How often do tempers flare?
If this is not something you enjoy, would you like to change course?
Knowing and practicing a little-known truth may help.
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Pro. 15:1 ESV)
We sensitive types tend to take most things personally, but so does the majority of the population in my opinion. One of the results of that sensitivity is that when someone "yells" at us, we go on the defensive. That 'yelling' is usually nothing more than the other person's stress level showing up in our presence, but we don't know that. We think they are 'yelling' at us.
And a confrontation ensues.
Why? Because a harsh word stirs up anger.
It is really that simple.
Therefore, if you are the guilty party in those confrontations, if you are the one who doesn't try to control the emotions when stressed, then you will continue to reap what you are sowing.
However, if it is usually the other person who uses the harsh tone of voice, then you have something in your power to stop any escalation of intensity.
It's called a soft answer
And it takes much practice to make it a part of your personality.
The first thing, of course, is to pay attention. Know when your buttons are getting pushed. Only then will you be able to set aside your emotional response and opt for a reasoned one.
Then you can find the soft answer.
Sometimes, that is no answer at all. Sometimes that can even be in the form of a question. Most of the time, though, it can be soft.
In other words, control the tone of your voice.
Once, while driving the big rigs, I was returning from dropping a load in Canada. Getting back into the States was a nightmare shortly after the Patriot Act response to 9/11. I came to a stop seven kilometers from the border. We were bumper to bumper of 18-wheelers waiting for the next one to get through so we could inch forward. It promised to be a long night.
A few hours into this I noticed there was a long gap between two trucks about a half-mile up the road. The gap got larger as the truck in front moved once more. I made what was to me a fairly logical assumption that the second truck was not moving because the driver had fallen asleep.
I watched the first truck move again. Nothing happened with the second truck--or any of the others between us. I put mine in gear, pulled out into the other lane and began passing all the trucks just sitting there.
When I passed them all, I stopped as I pulled in behind the truck that had been slowly moving forward.
A few moments later, I was startled as a driver jumped up on my running board, and in an angry tone said, "Why did you pull out in front of me and take my spot?!?"
I had been meditating on the verse of scripture before us a few days prior, and the Lord brought it to my remembrance. I took a deep breath and quietly responded, "Friend, I meant you no harm. It appeared to me that the driver was asleep and the gap was getting larger, so I pulled out and around."
Nerves were on edge for everyone, and it was obvious he was spoiling for a fight.
He replied, "Well, whatever," got down off the running board and left.
(I assumed he was the sleeping driver, but said nothing.)
Secondly, pay attention to your own tone of voice when speaking to another person. If you seem to always get an angry or intense response, it could be that you are using a harsh tone.
This is really a simple exercise that could go a long way toward lowering the level of acrimony in your experience--maybe even in society at large.
All comments, questions, and/or criticisms are welcome. They will be posted immediately without the necessity of approval.
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