We've talked a lot about anger this week. Anger toward our children. Anger in our hearts. Prayer requests from women overwhelm me on weeks like this. And the ones that break me to the core are the notes from moms who can't get a handle on their emotions and their tongues. Women like you and me who love deeply, but get all out of sorts amidst the unending stream of training. This post is for them.
Dear Angry Mom,
I just read your letter. Had it been hand-written the ink would have been smudged by your tears. I imagine you there, moaning over the keypad, feeling ashamed... but mostly you feel angry. You're angry with your children and angry with yourself, and angry with your children for making you so blasted angry at yourself, which makes you only angrier... and sadder, always sadder.
I link over sometimes to your Facebook page, and see the smiling faces of your children, and I lay hands on my computer monitor. Praying. Praying for your heart, praying for their hearts, praying for the hearts here in my home too. Because I get the pit you're stuck in, but more than that, I get the blessed hand that is powerful enough to pull us out.
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD.… (Psalm 40:1-3)
But you're not there yet. You're just hurting.
"Anger, discontentment, lack of patience, a hardened heart..." Your words and wounds astound me as you ask for prayer. You're so aware of your sin-stained angry tendencies. You recognize your problem, you recognize your need of saving, you cry out and ask for prayer... That's powerful, POWERFUL stuff! Acknowledging the problem stirs in us a desperate need for a miracle-working GOD to do the heavy lifting in our transformation. But it's just the first step.
The First Step -
Crying out to God is just the first step up and out of the pit.
But there is more to be done! More steps to take in this treacherous "CHANGE ME JESUS" journey.
For years I made that first step regularly... daily... nightly... over and over, crying "Lord, change me, help me, make me more like you." But the recognition never made its way from tears to transformation until I started taking more steps in the Spirit.
We are absolutely right to ask God to change us, but we also need to take more faith-filled steps. Simple daily steps that say to Him, "I know You are faithful to do the transforming work, so I'm going to do a bit of work too... I'm going to whisper today instead of shout - I'm going to give gentle tuck-ins tonight instead of hurried exasperated ones - I'm going to get into a relationship with a Godly woman who can model right behavior for me - I'm going to set my alarm clock 30 minutes before my family gets up so that I can read my devotional on the treadmill - I'm going to partner with a friend who struggles with the same heart challenges so that we can pray for one another, serve one another, care for one another in the messiest places of life."
When sin overwhelms, recognition must give way to repentance. Take the first step of repentance. Don't just feel bad and cry out for help... take His hand and let Him lift you. Keep the steps moving forward, then make a U-turn, putting one righteous foot in front of the faithful other! Walk yourself, in the power of God's Holy Spirit, out of bondage and into deliverance. It is possible. Step by step, by faithful, gentle, step.
You may have heard it said,
"To triumph you need only to try... God provides the Umph!"
Try... little steps, every day. Every day, little steps.
You've already called out to Him, that was the first step.
You felt conviction and you repented. Two more mighty steps.
Abide, gather tools, and practice self-control...
Little steps to practice each faithful day
Step one - Get in God's Word. God tells us clearly that the fruit of His Spirit in our lives is love, but we can only bear fruit when we're securely attached to the vine. He is the vine, we are the branches... apart from Him we can do nothing. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.
Step two - Get practical. Take a simple sheet of lined paper, or the notepad app on your iphone, or the front page in a brand new journal. Write down the triggers that make you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, and come up with a game plan of how you will train your children without explosive anger. How will you respond when they... what will you say when they say... what will you do when they... Come up with a game plan and don't let yourself be swept away by unprepared emotional responses any more.
Step three - Let go of the monitor "Angry Mom". I addressed you as such only to get your attention (search engines really do work!) But now that you're here and we're talking, let me say that you are simply "Mom". Mom. Renounce the anger and remember what's true. You do not hate them, and you do not hate yourself. You are simply Mom, and it's hard, but there's love and the promise of God making all things new. Renounce the anger and remember the love.
One little step at a time.