"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
The scripture above has been stuck in my mind for years - one of the few that was learned and stayed learned. Whether you are an adherent of the bible or not, its statement is as valid as any. Unfortunately, multitudes of men (and women) do not live by it. I hear relationships referred to as ‘toxic’ because the participants of the relationship do not live by this. It is also especially true between parents and children. It is well known that children emulate the behaviour of their parents. Yet tempers are lost when children speak to their parents in the same manner in which they have been spoken to. James 3:5 says,
“…behold! How great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
Put simply, it takes a small spark to set an entire forest alight. In the same way, it only takes a small remark to set an argument in motion. But, it also takes only the tiniest forbearance to keep the peace.
I am met with dropped jaws when I relate to people that I have never fought with my wife having been together 4 years and married just shy of a year. We certainly have disagreements, sometimes robustly, but we also both agree that fighting is not the best route to a solution. “Ah, give it time”, people say. Truthfully, there has been ample opportunity to fight, but having learned the above principle, it is readily called to application whenever needed. Many times I find myself refraining from grievous or facetious words to find a soft answer to turn away wrath, which I frankly think I would be lucky to survive. If you need proof that soft words turneth away wrath, it is that I am still alive to write this. People may also warn that conflict arises in marriage when spouses most annoying habits are no longer kept private. But a fellow has to ask himself if he would miss those habits were she no longer there, and if he would, it is not worth anger.
I wonder how much conflict would be avoided if men were just to learn how to be peacekeepers in their homes. There are most certainly conflicts which are more complicated than merely forbearing from anger, but the kind I am talking about is the paltry and inconsequential kind. The kind that are initiated by dirty dishes or laundry or how late you were getting home (“how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”) These are avoided as quickly as it is to shut your mouth when you sense an obnoxious comment brewing. Small conflicts more often than not lead to all-out war of words. Even more severe forms of conflict, however, can be resolved relatively quickly with a little bit of humility. I remember my wife telling me while we were still dating that there were certain things about myself that she would simply not put up with (and for good reason), and an effort was made to remedy those things. A woman can not change a man, but a man can change for a woman. By no means should anyone change who they are to please others, but some things are best let go of.
I am fortunate to know already that ‘do as I say, not as I do’ means nothing in the real world. I know ahead of time that my children will lead their own households in precisely the way I have taught them by example, and the example that I want most to set is that of a peacekeeper. Home is a place of safety and love (if the head of it is worth his salt), and there is no room for sustained anger and conflict. Conflict will happen, but I will do my utmost to be the exemplar of how it is resolved. It shouldn’t be forgotten, though it all too often is, that home is where little lives are moulded. Everything that is said and done is absorbed and repeated, and too many do not appreciate the gravity of that truth. Being a peacekeeper is not for ourselves, though we do benefit immeasurably. It is for our children, their children, and their children. We cannot discount the truth that when we are a peacekeeper in our homes, the generations that come after us will be peacemakers in theirs too.