Years ago, my teen daughters and I went grocery shopping.
Upon entering the store, grocery carts were lined up by the greeter to make it easier for the shoppers. I have the hardest time getting grocery carts unstuck from one another, so I am appreciative of this gesture.
I took the first grocery cart in line. Then, my daughters and I went several feet ahead to plan our grocery shopping strategy. The plan was to divide the list three ways and spread out to get the needed items. The “divide and conquer” strategy is very effective and saves so much time, well, on normal days, this plan saves time.
“Kristen, you get these groceries, Melinda you get these, and I will pick up these and meet you at the front….”
Melinda was concerned, “Mom, people are staring at us.”
Kristen explained further, “That man over there is yelling at you, Mom.”
I thought, “Why is someone yelling at me,” as I shifted my attention from my “divide and conquer” plan.
A red faced furious man was yelling and pointing his finger at me, “You stole my grocery cart!”
I looked at the empty grocery cart I had, and thought, “What? Why would someone get so furious over an empty grocery cart? Plus, he could reach out and touch the next grocery cart in line where he was standing.”
The store offered free coffee, and this man just happened to park his grocery cart first in line, while he got coffee. Wouldn’t you know? The minute he turned his back to pour himself free coffee, in comes the sneaky grocery cart bandit, who runs off with his empty grocery cart.
Well, I brought the empty grocery cart back to the angry man and kindly said, “I am sorry. I had no idea this was your grocery cart. I thought I was getting the first one in line. Is it alright for me to take this other grocery cart?”
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
The angry man was so embarrassed, as he sheepishly tried to explain why he was so angry at me. While stammering, he said, “I brought that grocery cart in here, all the way from the parking lot.”
I kindly replied, “I am so sorry. I didn’t know that. I thought it was the first one in line.”
The man, now backing away from me in shame, realized how foolish he had acted. He knew he had no excuse to behave in such an angry manner. Anger is just one letter away from danger. Who wants to get shot over an empty grocery cart? I have heard of things like that happening.
After that incident, instead of the “divide and conquer” way of shopping, I decided my daughters and I had better stick together to do our shopping, just for that day.
Upon leaving the store, I met the nicest Christian cashier, who saw the whole episode. All of a sudden, the cashier started singing in the most beautiful soprano voice, a song just for me. The song was about how much God loves me and how much God cares for me.
When I told my grocery cart story to my pastor, he said, “You were cursed going in the store and blessed coming out of the store.”
I wonder how this story would have ended if I had not used a soft answer to turn away wrath. I doubt it would have ended with a blessing. God’s Word is powerful. In this world, we are going to encounter angry people. Unkind people are a fabric of life.
How we respond to an angry person is a choice. We can respond in one of two ways; we can either respond in the flesh or God’s way. People watch us to see how we respond. In this case, my children were watching me, as well as many people in the store.
Do you have a story of when you used a soft answer to turn away wrath? I love hearing from you. ღ