A Soft Answer

“A Soft Answer,” New Era, May 2009, 42

A Soft Answer

I grew up in a house on the corner of Main Street in a small Idaho town. Often during the summer we would spend our afternoons and evenings in the front yard, playing on the grass or visiting with our neighbors.

One afternoon while we were playing in the yard, my youngest sister, who was only two years old, bolted out into the street. At the same moment, a truck with a couple of teenage boys from down the street screeched around the corner. My dad acted quickly and pulled my little sister out of the truck’s path. The boys in the truck shouted unkind and inappropriate words as they sped down the street.

I was angry, to say the least. I remember thinking someone should go down to the boys’ house and put them in their place. My sister could have been hurt or killed by their careless, dangerous driving.

I was glad when I saw my mother walking down the street, and I followed her. I was certain that the boys were going to be in big trouble. When we got to the house, the boy who had been driving answered the door. He was angry and defensive. He asked what we wanted and, to my surprise, my mother began to apologize. She said she was sorry that she had allowed her daughter to be so close to the street and told him she would watch my sister more carefully in the future.

Immediately the boy’s countenance changed. He apologized for driving so fast and for putting my sister in danger. He vowed to be more careful as he drove. After the short conversation, we returned home.

I still have never seen such an immediate change come over someone as it did over that boy that afternoon. We lived in that house for 11 more years, and in that time I never again saw the boy drive carelessly around the corner. As Proverbs 15:1 teaches, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” I imagine the outcome of the situation would have been very different if my mom would have approached angrily. Instead, two hearts were changed by the soft words of my mother.