Slowly, I slid down the wall while tears slid down my face.
I glanced at the clock that read 9:10 am. The day was young, but I needed a serious do-over.
I rubbed my tired head and thought about the last few weeks. As the calendar wound down on my husband’s deployment, my short fuse tightened up. My health struggles weren’t helping, either. While I had finally turned the corner on my persistent case of pneumonia, I managed to get a sinus infection. The medication I received to treat it made me nauseous as all get out, and on top of all this, I had lifted too many stacks of heavy books and thrown my back out.
But these circumstances weren’t the reasons for my tears.
On that Tuesday morning, my daughter revisited an old argument with her brother and both chose to exhaust their list of who-done-it-worse to each other. While I put out that fire, my other son saw an opportunity to sneak in extra computer time.
Stress flooding all possible fronts, I snapped under the pressure. The wheels of my mind spun out of control, and I moved like a locomotive downhill. I hollered. I waved my arms wildly. My head all but spun off my shoulders. Two kids looked at me with eyes big as turkey platters, and the third hid under the nearest table. So after I sent them to their rooms like three puppies with tails between their legs, I cried.
Because crying is what I do when I feel out of control and when I’ve just earned the award for Worst Parent Walking Planet Earth.
Now, this particular fit described above was several years ago and during a season when I had more than the usual stress and anxiety in my life. But we mamas know that anger happens not only in the big, pressure-filled times, but also during those times filled with everyday, low-grade stresses. I’ve been known to completely lose my mind because my kids complained over their dinner options or tracked in mud or left their dirty socks all over the place. In an effort to relieve the pressure valve of my simmering stress, I let anger have its way.
On one hand, I know even the best of parents have their moments and I can give myself a measure of grace. But on the other, I’m not at all proud of the damage I’ve inflicted on tender hearts and have time and again asked their forgiveness as I’ve prayed, God help me do better.
My kids are now teens instead of elementary-aged kids. While parenting older kids (and dealing with the frustrations of older kids) looks different from parenting little ones, I am not immune to having those flashes of anger. And I’ve been known to allow my out-of-control feelings dictate rather than indicate my feelings, especially when it comes to anger.
“Anger itself isn’t a sin. Anger is one of God’s emotions. He’s not asking us to turn it off or act like it doesn’t exist or stuff it down deep inside ourselves. He’s asking us to get angry about the right things and then to behave responsibly when we are angry. In other words, we can’t let our anger be the boss of us.
God’s anger is an indicator while my anger tends to be a dictator. Undisciplined, out-of-control anger is a selfish tyrant, a dictator. But God’s focused, merciful anger is a flashing warning light highlighting injustice, sin, or where our behavior needs to change, an indicator.” ~Lisa-Jo Baker, “The Temper Toolkit”
It may not feel like it, but I have a choice: will I allow my anger to indicate my feelings or dictate them? I do not have to be a slave to my feelings. I can allow them to point me to a situation I need to deal with, but no further. And with my feelings showing me the way, I can take a moment to breathe and see the injustice or sin I need to deal with within my children. Then that issue becomes the main thing instead of my desire to vent or have my say.
Y’all, parenting ain’t for wimps. It’s hard. As you and I move to engage with our children in ways that are for them, may we remember God empowers us to make good choices through the Holy Spirit, our helper and guide. God is with you when you’re handling everything graciously and he’s the grace you need when you’re not.
My friend Lisa-Jo Baker, author of the 5 star book Surprised by Motherhood, has a brand new online course available called “The Temper Toolkit.” Through this toolkit, Lisa-Jo not only uses Biblical applications that inspire me to make different choices, but she shows me how to practically make those different choices. This is the toolkit course I wish I had when my kids were younger but I’m still thankful to learn from today.
Lisa-Jo’s course opens today! Tell your friends all about it and sign up for it right here. The cart for this course remains open till Monday, February 6th at midnight. #rundontwalk