Proverbs 15:11 reminds us, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
We see this principle displayed in the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. Abigail was the wife of a notoriously evil man named Nabal. When King David asked Nabal to extend hospitality to David's men, Nabal refused. This angered David, and he immediately drew his sword. He commanded his men to descend on the house of Nabal, threatening: "May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him" (verse 22).
When word of her husband's defiance reached Abigail, she was quick to act. Verse 18 tells us, "Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys." Risking her own life, she threw herself at the feet of King David to plead for mercy.
Abigail's kind words and generosity were enough to turn that negative situation around, and her actions saved her household from destruction. And ultimately, she made such an impression on the king that he later took her as a wife.
We see this principle displayed in daily life as well as a soft answer diffuses tense situations in the workplace, avoids needless arguments and uncovers sadness disguised as anger.
But in my home life, I have found something that is often even more effective at soothing anger. With all due respect to the writer of Proverbs, I think he should know that there is something that is powerful enough to soften a mommy's heart when she is at her wit's end. In a word, it's ...
My case in point.
Two-year-old Emma has been in all kinds of trouble this week, but somehow she seems to get progressively cuter with each infraction. If I'm not careful, I can find myself so mesmerized when she wrinkles her nose and flashes me a toothy grin that I fail to notice her writing on the furniture, sneaking off with my lip gloss, or inching toward the cookies I said she can't eat right now.
Emma, I'm on to you, little sister! I realize you are adorable, but beauty is as beauty does. Please, no more emptying tubes of toothpaste into the commode, writing on the boys' library books or swiping Mary Ashley's doll. And if you slip into the street with your tricycle again without my permission, you will be punished. Even if you are the cutest-little-girl-I-ever-did-see-my-precious-darling-angel-sweetpie. And I mean it.