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The Moisturizer Miracle

The other day I was reminded that it was winter. How? My hands notified me. They had taken on their winterized look and feel — dry, rough, irritated. I did something that I rarely do any other time of the year. I applied some moisturizer to them. And let the record reflect, it was moisturizer especially designed for men! In no time flat, the dehydrated epidermis on my metacarpals was therapeutically transformed. In simpler terms, my hands were healed! I call it the ''moisturizer miracle.''

There are lessons for us in this. Sometimes our interactions with others get a little dry, rough and irritated. We feel the sting of words spoken in agitation or anger. We sense the stiffness of someone's frustrated attitude. The perturbations of people spill over and onto us.

The natural reaction is to give back what we've received. We justify a twist in that wise, Golden Rule Jesus gave. Instead of ''doing unto others as we want them to do to us,'' we ''do unto others AS they have done to us.'' This starts an ugly, petty, downward cycle of hurt and retaliation. The ''get back'' and ''get even'' urges take over, and things quickly go from bad to worse, from peace to war. A relatively small irritated statement, angry look or agitated attitude leads to a big, and unnecessary blow-up.

How can we stop this cycle before it damages emotions, destroys trust or simply robs us of precious moments with people we love? The Bible tells us:

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. — Proverbs 15:1 (NLT)

A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger. — Proverbs 15:1 (TVB)

A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up. — Proverbs 15:1 (CEV)

God says that we can calm things down or rile things up by our reactions and responses to what others say and do. We can chose to add to someone's frustrations and anger by giving back what we got, or we can de-escalate the situation by applying some ''relationship moisturizer.''

When we respond to someone's dry, rough, irritated words or attitudes with gentleness, tenderness and kindness, we're applying a relationship balm that potentially soothes and heals their rawness. We create the possibility of restoring positive communication. We interject something therapeutic into the relationship.

The next time someone says something hard, rough or irritating to you, ''rub it in.'' Rub in gentleness, tenderness and kindness. Apply some ''relationship moisturizer,'' and expect a miracle!

Pastor Dale