A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath {on dealing with anger}

Henri Edmond Cross

“A gentle answer turns away wrath. But harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1

Standing in the hallway of the hotel where we were hosting our mom’s conference, I noticed a sweet mama who looked as though she was at the end of her rope. Holding a several months old baby, who was arching his little back and crying as though his heart would break, she looked beside herself.

Offering to hold her little one so she could get some rest. Sure enough he would begin to quiet and then something, probably a little gurgly tummy would cause him to begin to wail once again. I held him up, cheek to cheek, his to mine, with my mouth aimed toward his little ear.

Softly I began to talk to him and then I would sing the song so often sung to my children, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” very softly, very gently. He would quiet down. Then another cry would begin, and I would talk to him very softly, “You are not alone, you are so very precious, you are a darling boy,” lyrically, holding his soft cheek so he could feel mine. Each time my voice started, his little eyes got big and he would quiet.

Suddenly, he fell fast asleep.

Whether my children were young and tiny or old, and if they were in a snit, if I wrapped my demeanor, by my will, in softness and gentleness and answered their anger in a gentle voice, they were more likely than not to listen to me and to respond.

“I understand you are feeling frustrated or angry, but I want to listen to you and understand what you are saying so that I can help you.”

Angry words answered with a loud voice and accusation, just adds fuel to the flame of anger. Gentleness and sympathy puts water on the fire of one’s angry heart. Once I had this scripture in my head and learned to use it in many relationship situations, I saw how effective this piece of wisdom was—all of us desire, in our frustration, to be honored.

There is no absolute solution or formula to calming an angry quarrel. Yet, wisdom from proverbs has often saved the moment for my family.

A hormonal teen, an exhausted toddler, a school-aged child, or a husband who is angry—all of these, long to be treated with focused attention, an understanding heart and a loving response.

As we all know, it is natural to react in like—anger to anger. However, it is supernatural to react in love. And yet, as the Spirit lives through us, we will see His power and fruit drawing others to Him in us, when we choose to remember bits of truth he has left for us to follow. A gentle answer, turns away anger.


Sally Clarkson, www.itakejoy.com

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  1. Melanie Caldicott says

    This is such a great post. It can be easy to react to the anger of our kids by getting all het up ourselves. Taking ourselves out of the situation, breathing deeply and learning to help them to manage their anger and calm down is a skill in parenting that we all need to practise and develop. Gentleness is something I’m still working on :-)

  2. Dani Byham says

    Phew! This is a hard truth to implement! It’s so easy to give in to emotions and not walk in the Spirit. Going to work on gentleness today.

  3. says

    Thank you Sally :) I’ve been practicing this in our own home. I have a 5 year old who is such a horrible tantrumer (if that’s a word) and I realized as I was praying for him the other day that I had been entering into the battle with him too often. I want to hear him, and respect him, but I’m making the choice not to enter the battle. It’s taken me weeks of prayer and constant reminders to be the adult, and choose love when what I really want to do is just win. But it was God’s kindness that led me to repentance, and I want to demonstrate that to him. Thanks so much for the reminder!

  4. Keren Threlfall says

    “There is no absolute solution or formula to calming an angry quarrel. Yet, wisdom from proverbs has often saved the moment for my family.”

    This is wisdom! Thank you. :)

  5. says

    This is really hard for me. Controlling my own anger is something I struggle with, never mind reacting to my kids’ anger appropriately. Thanks for the reminder of the difference soft works can make.

  6. Julia says

    I needed this today. Your anecdote and your assertion that anger to anger is easy but fuels the fire, coupled with how anger to gentleness is hard but calms the storm…they gave me a new perspective. This one goes in the files. Thank you.

  7. Toni says

    I don’t comment on articles too often; but you wrote this so beautifully, simply, and clear that I must post THANK You! This is going stringent into my “mommy handbook!”

  8. Sarah Coller says

    Such a great message. Thank you, Sally! I’ve just posted this week’s Homemaking Linkup and would love to have
    you join, if you’d like.


    Mrs. Sarah Coller

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