WHAT heals angry flare-ups in the family? In the book of Proverbs we're told, ``A soft answer turneth away wrath.'' And, as Luke's Gospel records, Christ Jesus taught his disciples, ``Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other.'' But does such counsel really heal anger? Or is it just a way to keep peace in the family for another day? If we ``turn the other cheek,'' are we just being weak and submissive?
Looking closely at Jesus' life, we come to see that our words and actions have healing authority if they're supported by an understanding of God and our relationship to Him.
Here was the Way-shower, working alone with his God. His healing and teaching caused those in authority to hate him. His friends left him as he was arrested and finally crucified. What was Jesus' response? He didn't waver from his counsel of ``turning the other cheek.'' Yet he was not weak. He was triumphant!
Why was Jesus able to be so calm? Wasn't it because he knew that his relationship to God was the governing fact in each situation? Since God is the one true creator, and man is His likeness, as the Bible teaches, there is a unity between God and man that can be seen as governing every aspect of our lives.
As the Son of God, Jesus understood his creator's care, understood that he was governed by divine law. He knew he wasn't there through happenstance. He knew he was there to heal and to teach more about God's love for man. And he understood his indestructible relationship to God. This made him the victor, never the victim.
Glimpsing something of our own spiritual individuality and purpose, we too will be victors. Isn't our purpose as God's image to express the purity and love of the divine nature in all that we do? Isn't our purpose to heal? And this purpose is supported by all the power of divine law. We can bring calm and a ``soft answer'' to an angry outburst when our lives are founded upon the rock of Christ.
Actually, because our true selfhood is God's likeness, the Christlike qualities that Jesus exemplified make up our very being. Jesus demonstrated through his healing works that man's true nature -- his actual, spiritual individuality -- comes directly from all that God is. And God is totally good.
A ``soft answer'' that really helps, needs the support of such sure spiritual understanding. If weakness or a feeling of intimidation impels our response, we're really doing the opposite of what Jesus counseled. But if one's growing sense of his own and others' unbreakable relationship with divine Love supports the soft answer, then we'll see healing. Then how we respond can not only turn away anger; it can help heal whatever might be at the root of the problem. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book of Poems:
And o'er earth's troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk, And come to me, and tenderly,
Certainly there is a moment in every encounter when we can listen to the Christ, to the divine influence in human consciousness, tenderly talking. And as we listen to the Christ and not simply to our own emotions, we'll find the soft answer that heals.