One evening a few weeks back my daughters began to fuss with each other. Ryann was coloring and Micaila needed her direction toward the coloring paper. Ryann was pulling the “It’s over there.” and Micaila, bewildered, responds “over wheeerrreee, Ryann?” As I tried to suppress my annoyance I looked at Ryann and said “The loving thing to do would be to get her a piece of paper.” She complied but not without some reluctance. They sat and colored next to each other and soon Ryann asks Micaila for help spelling a word. To which Micaila denied her through silence.
Oh come on.
At this point I don’t recall what happened throughout the day. It was around dinner time and we were waiting for my parents to arrive. Maybe it was that 5 o’clock “witching hour”. What you need to know though is in that moment I lost it. I’m watching/listening to my daughters interact with each other with such a lack of love, kindness and thoughtfulness and I just laid into them.
I said,…. no I was shouting, not quite a 10 but like a 9.5, “I have had enough of your bickering and ugliness toward each other! You are withholding from her, she is withholding from you! This is not being loving or kind or generous or thoughtful! What have we been talking about?!! We’ve been reading about clinging to what is good!!! Is this good?! No this is evil! And now mommy is sinning in her anger!! And it’s obvious we all need Jesus right now!”
That’s pretty much verbatim. I’m standing there and I realize that my example is totally trashing what I want my kids to know about God and reflecting his character and it hit me; I’m inadequate. I’m going to fail. But if there is one thing I can show my kids in the midst of my failures it’s that I am absolutely desperate for Jesus. And so are they. And we can call on him at any moment we just have to humble ourselves.
It’s no coincidence that my scripture memory for that week was 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under Gods mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
I had them sit on our couch and I kid you not I stomped off to my room to retrieve my Bible. I sat down and opened it and looked at them, still fuming, and I said “We have got to pray and invite Gods Holy Spirit into this moment right now.” And I began praying. And it felt weird at first because I was so ticked off. Ticked off at my kids for being so petty but even more mad at myself for lacking self-control and being so angry. But as I sat there and spoke to God, confessed my sin to him, and asked him to fill us with his love, patience, kindness,…. My Spirit could not help but submit to him. I slowly began to calm and sense his peace flood my heart. When I finished praying I looked at my girls and acknowledged to them how sinful and wrong it was for me to be so angry at them. That I wasn’t responding in love or the way God wants me to respond. I apologized to them and suggested that they too apologize and forgive each other. We proceeded to read and discuss Ephesians 4:17-5:21. (My Bible titles it “Living as Children of Light)
I don’t have it all together. None of us do. But even when my flesh is weak and I get what feels like a sucker punch by the devil himself I want to learn to get back up in grace. Is it okay for me to lash out toward my children? Absolutely not. Do I want to? Heck no. I want to consistently exhibit a gentle and patient spirit that comes from my submission to the Lord. Unfortunately, I have not reached perfection. But maybe it’s also good for my kids to see how we can respond to those sneak attacks. That even when we’re caught off guard and in a frenzy of high emotions, where we feel totally out of control, God is waiting for us to relinquish it all to him, for he is in control. Maybe it’s in those moments our kids learn to choose Jesus despite what they are feeling. And it’s in those moments that our kids learn what repentance looks like and what it means to take responsibility, apologize and forgive.
The Lord is my Redeemer and my children’s Redeemer. And I believe he is bigger than all my mothering messes. I hope if you find yourself reading this, maybe even feeling defeated as a mom because let’s face it, satan wants us to feel that way, that you would embrace your Redeemer as well and believe that he is bigger. Because he is. 🙂
I quoted 1 Peter 5 earlier and I’d like to quote it again through verse 11.
Be strong and be encouraged. 🙂
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”