I returned to Proverbs this morning. Specifically chapter 15. There are so many little nuggets of truth here, that I could go all day on this chapter. Instead I'll just pick out two verses in particular. The first being verse 1:
" A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger."
As a parent this verse especially rings true. I can't tell you how many times I'm at the end of my rope with one of my kids, and I snap at them when they ask something. The reaction is true- they get angry and upset with Mommy. The same thing happens with grown adults. People are passionate about their feelings and their beliefs, and if you don't watch your mouth sometimes in conversation you can seriously upset someone. One example is child discipline. As a general rule, Andy and I are not fans of spanking. We don't do it because for the longest time Zander was hitting and striking out when he was angry. So we learned that the best way to deal with him was to take something away for have him sit in a naughty chair for awhile. Amazingly, he's stopped hitting his sister when he's angry with her. And when we have a conversation with other people about this exact subject, we have to be careful how we say "we don't do spanking" because it can come out as a direct criticism of those who do- and it works for them, but it is an area near and dear to parents. The last thing we want is to start a feud of sorts just because we disagree.
The other verse that sticks out this morning is verse 13:
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit."
Andy's learning about this very thing. He's always been a glass half-empty kind of person. When something would go wrong at work or at church he would dive right into those conversations about all the problems and join in with the complaining. At some point though, he realized that all the complaining was getting him nowhere, all it was doing was acting as fuel for everyone else. So he's been doing the opposite. He has been looking at things with a different point of view. He's letting Jesus show him all the good in people and he's literally overflowing with positive thoughts. You used to be able to take one look at my husband and know whether he's had a bad day or a good day. Now he's always cheerful, because he knows that every day is a gift. That even at the end of a bad day, God will always love him, and the kids and I will always love him, and that's the important things in life.
It's fun to watch him interact with people now. Someone walks up to him and asks him if he's working yet and he says "No! Isn't it great!" And the other person just doesn't know what to say to that. Even though we're not able to do the things we want to do for lack of money, he's been able to work on God's House as much as he wants, and he's been able to spend so much time with his kids that he doesn't normally get to. He's gotten a few projects done around the house that were waiting for him, and he's been available to do things for other people, like help shovel out driveways and volunteer at school. It's great. It will almost be sad when he does go back to work.
One thing is certain. Misery loves company. And if someone is crabby and miserable they like to bring everyone down to their low place. But to put on a cheerful face and share love and smiles can change the dynamics so much. Before long, people start smiling, because smiles are contagious. Letting God's Joy take over can be infectious. Isn't it time we start spreading joy instead of germs?