My child's discontentment makes me discontent

sadpic2.jpg

Welcome to part two of our series,"You Are Not a Victim, You're a Mom." Today we're clawing our way to the gnarly root system of this victim mentality by talking about discontentment - ours not theirs.

VictimSeries-Banner
VictimSeries-Banner

There's an epidemic of entitled discontentment slithering into homes around America today. Unfortunately, I believe, parents are so overwhelmed by the discontented cries of their children, they've grown deaf to their own complaining hearts.

Whether our kids are pushing for more things to buy, more time on their devices, or another book at bedtime, moms today feel pushed and pulled and... victimized.

We are desperate for them to be satisfied, so that they may know peace, and we can finally have some too.

"If they didn't throw fits, then I'd be happy. If they'd eat what I serve them, then I'd be happy. If they stopped asking for more at bedtime... If they stopped arguing with their brother over toys... If they stopped asking for whatever's next, always next... complaining so much... leaving a mess... being so loud... melting down over chores... over homework... over gold-fish...

[Tweet "If my kids weren't so discontented... I could be content!"]

Do you see what I'm getting at? We've become the victim. In a way they're now in control, and we've become the child, throwing discontented fits of our own.

Though I have a child who struggles without end for more and more, seemingly never satisfied, his thorn of discontent has become my own. I've allowed his lack of peace and gratitude to steal my peace and gratitude.  I harp on him incessantly, so discontent with his discontentment.  Yes, I've become the victim.

discontent 2
discontent 2

We want to raise a generation of grateful kids, but this is where it starts, moms - with us. Often we get so focused on our child's lack of contentment, we lose sight of our own personal struggle to embrace the family, complete with the unique personalities, we've been given.

God has revealed to me this very thing, especially in the arena of my children's personal challenges. I find myself comparing my precious boys to my friends' compliant children who learn easily and sit quietly; children who don't have ADHD, ODD -children who don't struggle with discontentment.

In our new book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, Amber Lia and I examine many of the things our children do and say, or simply the facets of their personalities that wear us down and set us off.

While we didn't write a chapter on discontentment, it absolutely fits. It's a trigger!

backdrop2
backdrop2

Though the book has already gone to print, I continue to learn more about the triggers here in my heart and home, and how the Lord wants to grow me into a gracious mom in the face of each unique set of circumstances. I'm learning anew that my boys' challenges challenge me. However, here's what I know above all else: we are not to be controlled by their childish behavior, but controlled instead by the Spirit of God at work in our mothering lives.

So what's the key to changing in this regard? We must focus on our own contentment rather than their lack. And as we model this personal self-control, and joy in all circumstances, there is a chance that they will join us in the transformation process.

And that's what we've wanted all along - their maturity. But God is ever focused on maturing us first. Always us first, if the apple is to ever resemble the tree.

1454672049074
1454672049074

I know we get exhausted and stressed, but let's slow things down and consider this before we explode next time: the victim always tries to blame something or someone externally - the ones pushing their buttons - but anger comes up and out of the heart of a human - from deep within. Moms explode because of what's happening on their insides, not what's assailing them from the outside.

Though the discontented cries of our little people seem to fly at us all day long, it is our own hearts that prove most difficult to train. And so we turn our focus today to our own lack of gratitude for what we've been given by the hand of a kind and purposeful God!

I often tell my big kid, "Honey, contentment is being happy with what you already have." Over and over again, day after day, I speak these true words over him. Today, I'm preaching them back to myself. And to you.

Because we are not victims, we're moms! Blessed, blessed, over and abundantly blessed.

Here is a scripture to memorize and believe today, if you struggle with discontentment: "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90:14, NIV)

Triggers-Mockup5
Triggers-Mockup5

In the new book, Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, we've included an entire chapter on raising strong-willed children, and another on raising kids with diagnosable challenges such as ADHD and ODD, developmental delays and learning disabilities.

If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if the things that challenge your children challenge you, and if you find yourself yelling and overcome by shame, order your copy of Triggers today.

I’ll continue speaking to this issue of Mommy-Anger in the days ahead. Just click here to add your email and you’ll receive these articles directly in your inbox!

You are not a victim, you're a mom

VictimSeries-Portrait.png

I sat beside her at the public swimming pool, her little ones in the shallow wearing water wings, mine canon-balling off the high dive. We were wading into the metaphorical deep-end ourselves, talking about the hard stuff, that chlorine scented afternoon. She was exasperated, worn out. Her frustrations bordered anger, and she felt great shame over her emotions - still they flooded.

Picking up a damp towel nearby, she wiped her face then said, "I think that I'm most upset that my children ruin my plans each day. And not just my plans for the day, but my plans of being a good mom. They ruin it no matter what I do. They ruin all of the meals I serve by hating what I've made and crying at the table. They ruin our trips to the park and our playdates with friends by throwing fits when it's time to go. I plan so much fun, and they ruin it all by demanding more or different. And I guess, if I'm honest, they ruin my dreams of what my family would be like. I had such good dreams. I've dreamt of being a mom for so long, now here I am and there aren't any peaceful, happy tuck-ins, no Bible reading at the breakfast table - not without more fits! Everyday I'm disappointed, frustrated, and angry. I feel abused! Some days I just want to throw in the towel." And she did throw down the tattered towel in her hands, with a pathetic little moan.

I smiled, leaned in, and hugged her. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but as she shared I believed she spoke the unspoken emotions of many moms in many homes today.

We feel like victims.

You are not a victim, you're a mom!
You are not a victim, you're a mom!

In the quite morning hours, when God's mercies are new, I know that I am not a victim, I'm simply a mom.

The same is true for my young friend, and the same is true for you.

Still, we find ourselves forgetting by mid-afternoon, hiding in the pantry with a handful of chocolate chips.

So, here's a question for you: Do you take everything personally? Maybe you don't mean too, but do you REACT as though you're the victim... all the time? And do you retreat behind your phone, in your pantry, in your anger, in this victim mentality each day?

Your husband comes home from work late... and you're the victim. Your children don't like what you cooked for dinner... and you're the victim. The kids can't find their shoes, their socks, their backpacks... and you're the victim. Your gifts weren't well received this Christmas... and you're the victim. You planed a cookie making afternoon with friends, and it's just a mess and the kids would rather tear up the toy room... and you're the victim.

It seems ridiculous when typed out like a confessional. But does this resonate at all?

Ladies, here in the stillness of this simple blog post, let me remind us both that we aren't victims... we're moms. Thwarted expectations are part and parcel when taking care of a family full of real live little people. It's hard, yes, but the majority of us are not abused.

Your children don't wake up in the middle of the night and gather round the baby's crib to plot ways to dash your dreams and destroy your day. They aren't contriving fevers, or purposing fits -though it does sometimes feel that way. They are simply being children, and they need you to simply keep on being mom.

Still, you're overwhelmed because you're feeling all the feelings. I know. So let me encourage you as I did this sweet mama with three kiddos under four, "Roll with the punches and go with the flow today, in the midst of the messy mundane. And on the big days too, when you've planned a trip to Disneyland and everyone's crying, keep putting one faithful foot in front of the other. Whatever your lot, choose to believe today what is noble and true, what is lovely and worthy of praise... and I'll be doing the same from my home with my children, as I whisper these words to myself, "You are not a victim, you're a mom."

The goal each day is faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. And victims have a miserable time loving gently and lavishly.

We're not victims, we're moms.

Blessings upon us, every one,

Wen

ws-sidebar-triggers2
ws-sidebar-triggers2

If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your little ones, feeling like a victim, then weighed down by shame, I encourage to order a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today. There is also the Triggers Study Guide, purposed to take you deeper in God's transforming Word! Ladies, this book has been a game changer for moms like you and me.

I'll continue speaking to this issue of Mommy-Anger in the weeks ahead. If you would like to receive this series directly to your inbox, sign up here!

Here's more of our on-going series, You Are Not a Victim, You're a Mom:

For part 2 in our series, My Child's Discontentment Makes Me Discontent, click here.

For part 3, Pray First, Ask Questions Later, go here.

For part 4, Parenting with Compassion - Not Passion, link over here.

For part 5, TRIGGERS, head here.

For part 6, Mommy time out, click here.

For part 7, Authoritarian Parenting, go here.

For part 8, Fast and Pray, Sweet Mom, head here.

Part 9, Whatever is true, is here.

Part 10, When Mom Needs a Good Cry, Cry Out, click here.

Part 11, What Does Parenting Have to Do With The Gospel? Read this one.

TRIGGERS: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses, was co-authored by Wendy Speake and Amber Lia.

Because we all end up bowed down, low to the ground, eventually

posture-picture.jpg

My posture these days is running, standing, and going. My posture is muscular and active -  throwing people and priorities out of the way and out of my day because the school bell is set to ring. There's very little slowing down and kneeling down and falling down prostrate on the floor in quiet surrender because... well... Life.  

posture picture

 

There is no time to fill up our souls with God's beauty before the sun rises - before my sons rise - and so we rush into life lacking beauty. Beauty within and beauty flowing out into the lives of our little people. We throw make-up on our faces at stoplights, but we can't cake it on thick enough that it eeks it's way down through our pores and into our souls. True beauty doesn't work that way. It's got to start deep within, and work it's way up and out. But we're living lives that are much too busy for such things.

Hurried, harried, and horrible: they go together. But hurried and holy rarely co-exist.

Holy and hallowed and hushed, now those are true companions.

They meet together in the morning hours before the sun steals past the beauty of dawn. We need to join them there.

We need to fellowship with the Holy One - slowing down, sitting down, and coming down off our cram-packed agendas to seek Him on the floor.

On the floor.

Because that's where every person is going to end up, eventually. Either on purpose, prostrating oneself in worship, intentionally in the morning hours; or at night in a tearful puddle; or, and this is a frightening thought, they're going to find themselves on the ground like the discarded branch that's not bearing fruit - cut off and cast down.

 

Live in me, and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me. "I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can't produce anything without me. Whoever doesn't live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned. (John 15:4-6)

 

Thrown away, cast aside, thrown down...

We're going to end up on the ground, on our knees, on our bellies, forehead indented by dusty carpet strands or pressed against cool linoleum floors. Prostrate.

Eventually.

And the choice of how we get there is what we call freewill.

Starting with Him each day, it's what we want. Seems to me it ought to be easier, but... life.

Life.

Somehow that word is always our excuse.

But a beautiful faith-filled, honey-dripping life is what we're after, and it is found at dawn.

When we rush past the quiet morning moments and into demanding days, we are not the only ones to suffer.

The precious people in our lives bear the stretch marks of our stretched out hectic days. Hollering isn't Holy. But what else can we expect if we're not abiding, remaining, living in Him? We throw retroactive prayers up after unholy mornings that whirl past us in a haze. "Lord, forgive me. Lord, don't let me screw this family up. Lord, transform me!

But we forget that transformation isn't a retroactive wave of a magic wand - transformation takes place preemptively and prostrate. First place and foremost. Transformation into a thing of beauty starts with this sort of proactive surrender. It takes humility, on our knees and on the floor and on the offense... daily before dawn.

Because life... life is full of fragile beauty, cased in the soft skin of relationships. Our love relationship with the vine, and our love relationship with our people. We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime.

[Tweet "We need to prostrate ourselves in the hushed and hallowed hallways of our predawn homes, or we will end up flat on the floor in tearful confession for lacking beauty come nighttime."]

 

We try everything else first, don't we? Staying calm in our own strength. Arm-wrestling our way to patience and self-control. We are well-intentioned Christian Women. But the truth is simply this: Good intentions won't do a thing without Holy Spirit power backing them up. We can't push ourselves through to transformation unless we hit the floor and hit our knees first thing everyday.

Because we're going to end up there, don't you know it? On the floor. One way or another.

Don't you get tired of turning to God retroactively?

I don't want to confess my sins at the end of another long and losing mothering day. Not anymore! I'm tired of the sameness of defeat.

Shouldn't we rather start with Him? Confessing our need from the beginning, rather than ending with tear stained confessions?

You see how that works? Because either way we are going to confess Him! Either way we're Hitting the floor and either way we're confessing our need for Him. So which will it be? Proactively? Or retroactively, at the end of another defeated day?

Let's confess our need for His strength upfront, as to avoid confessing our need for forgiveness on the backside of each hard day.

I want to learn to worship God on the floor before the sunrise, before my sons rise. Because I'm going to hit the hardwood at some point today.

 

"...at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Bowed down, good and low, before the glory of God the Father.

He gently leads us

CR-copy.jpg

Today is my husband's 40th birthday! Yesterday was also HUGE because I sent a complete book manuscript into my publisher. And tomorrow is already hanging heavy over my head because I'm scheduled to speak at a local MOPS group.

Needless to say, I have a few things on my mind that aren't about mothering my little crew.

I have thoughts and commitments beyond being a fully engaged Face-to-Face interacting, faith building, dinner making, mess cleaning, boo-boo kissing mom! And it's all good! Truly. God doesn't just call us to one role at a time - especially moms! We wear a million different hats every long mothering day. Taxi driver, teacher, bible study leader, accountant, lover, disciplinarian, cook, maid, manager, special event coordinator... Even if you're a stay-at-home mom, you're home with lots of things going on within your family and within your own multi-faceted life.

And I commend you for trying to make it all work, all the while attempting to stay present and patient toward your people. This season of life takes a whole lot of muscle - as we try to do it all! But it also requires a whole lot of surrender! In the busyness of everything I have going on this week I am meditating and believing this beautiful picture of motherhood given to us in scripture:

 

CR copy

 

There are days that I feel completely overwhelmed (those are usually the days I snap - when the children's childish ways are simply too much for me to handle.) There are the days I slow down to seek the Lord. I ask Him if I'm doing too much, said yes to too many things, put on too many hats. And sometimes the answer is "YES - Yes, you have." But other times His answer comes slowly but clearly, "No, I've just called you to hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  Sweet Mom friends, I want to encourage you to ask this same question of the Lord. "Have I said yes to too many things? Is the load I'm carrying too heavy because I've taken on too much?" The answer may be "YES - Yes, you have." Or possibly, in His tender way, God may remind you, "No, I've just called you to do hard things. But I will lead you... I gently lead those that have young."

  I am not your Holy Spirit. I do not know if you've taken on too much. However, I know that when we are stressed, overwhelmed by it all, we tend be less gentle - and don't we want to be like our shepherd? So, let's seek Him today. Ask Him if our tendencies to explode have anything to do with the load we are carrying. Ask Him what might come off of your backs - for we were not created beasts of burden. And if there is nothing you can remove today, then surrender to His promise to take your heavy load and exchange it for His light and momentary burdens. For He longs to gently lead those of us with young.

 

[Tweet ""He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)"]

Because sometimes that one child, with all their special needs, takes everything you have

shutterstock_143586229-copy.jpg

Do you have a child with impulse control issues, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Aspergers, Autism, Dyslexia, APD, Depression, Anxiety, or a unique concoction of those listed above? And is it hard? I bet it is. I know it is. Having a child (or children) with special needs, behavioral disorders and learning difficulties can be one of the most difficult weights to bear. And under the pressure, moms can explode and marriages implode and love erode. It's all so very complicated.  

shutterstock_143586229 copy

 

One sweet mom recently asked for prayer concerning her anger, and was so insightful to recognize the connection between the constant energy her child with unique needs requires and her own twitchy trigger finger.  She confessed the way she tends to explode at the rest of the family when she is simply worn out by her one special child. Yes. I can relate. I remember going to the psychiatrist for the first time with my son with ADHD. After he was assessed and diagnosed I immediately started talking about all the other issues in our family and the possible disorders my other kids might have. The doctor smiled, nodded, and said, "It's very possible nobody has any diagnosable issues. They have issues, but the sort of issues that come from proximity. Don't worry. Let's see if we can help this one kid first. Usually what happens is that once we help one child with impulse control and oppositional tendencies everyone else's behavior in the home begins to change.

 

Kids with behavioral, developmental, or learning issues often cause the whole family to have issues as well. And to some extent I've seen that this is true. If one brother is hyperactive and discontent or argumentative, think of the way it affects siblings and mom and dad. That peaceful home you always imagined transforms into a stressful one with terse replies and a short-tempered marriage.

 

Unfortunately it's not as easy as a little pill. Some challenges simply aren't so treatable, and the ramifications run deep and wide. Sure, we can learn behavior modification techniques and coping skills, seek the help of therapists, try changing their diet and homeopathic remedies or more traditional medications, but for many families there remain... challenges.  Challenges because of that one dear child who sits awkwardly somewhere on the spectrum, demanding much of our time, every waking moment. Or the kid with dyslexia that still comes home with two hours of homework each school night, along with a backpack full of self-loathing. And by the time you get his needs taken care of you are all poured out, stressed, sad, and short tempered too.

I'm sorry.

 

I'm sorry that you have such a challenging reality. But the deal is this, my friends: Your charge to love is the same as the woman next door with two compliant girls and bumper stickers boasting, "My child was on the honor roll... Again!" Every Christian woman has been given the same commission, regardless of circumstance: To love, because we have first been loved. To forgive, because Christ first forgave us. To suffer beside our children as long as need be, because our God is long-suffering in his tender love toward us.

 

Believe it or not - experience it or not - we have all received good and not evil from the Father's hand. But good doesn't always mean easy. Good means, I believe, just the right circumstances to help us recognize our desperate need for Jesus each and every day! That child with Aspergers and the two with ADHD, the teenager who struggles with anxiety, the one with OCD and his brother with APD, and the husband weighed down heavy with depression, and you with your own soul sadness...

 

Every human issue has the ability to point us towards our deepest soul issue... the fact we need God's power in our weakness, His saving in our failures, His hand to hold us up, His love when ours runs bone dry.

 

Ladies, there is no formula to conquer these challenges, and every other, other than Christ in you, each and every day. Abide in Him as He abides in you, carve out the time and make His near and transforming Word a priority, that you might bear the fruit of His Spirit in your overwhelming (God given) circumstances.

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

 

What if the word "perfect" doesn't mean exactly what we imagined when we were first pregnant? We dreamed of perfection as ten fingers and ten toes, a soft tuft of hair, and all the baby powder scented memories we'd make together. We dreamt of perfection as the darling slept contented and awoke happily. We imagined perfect to mean all shiny and lovely and joyful and good. But what if "perfect" has more to do with perfecting the recipient of the gift? Transforming us via the present swaddled in our arms. 

 

God looks down upon his grown-up child and says, "I love you therefore I want to perfect you into my image... so I will send you a perfecting gift to help you in this process. A gift all hot and fiery to refine the dross right out of you. There may be ten fingers and ten toes, and contented sleep and happy waking times, but then again there may not be. I have formed this perfecting gift within the womb of a woman as part of my perfect plan to perfect a mother. To perfect a father. To perfect a family."

 

Do you know that God cares more about your transformation process than your comfort? And that is true in our mothering lives as well. And so He doesn't just allow imperfections to slip through His fingers and into our lives... He prepares, pre-plans, and perfects us in these anointed trials of motherhood.

 

I sat with my child on the end of his bed one afternoon when math was swirling in his head and simply would not make sense. He asked me, "Why do I have this issue?" And I hung my head in surrender there beside him and chose again to let his issue be my own, rather than letting his issue suck me dry and leave me unkind and worn out.

 

"Son," I said, "we all have issues. Every single person under heaven. And God has allowed them so that we can learn to turn to Him for His wisdom and strength each difficult day." And then I shared with him a few of my own challenges. Because it is true - we all have them. And in that moment my issues became encouragement to another. How much better, how much better... than when I've let his issues cause issues of my own.

 

Dear parents or children with challenges that challenge you, with issues that create issues there in your home. I'm praying for you today, that the Lord is reveling His perfecting plan in the midst of all of this.

 

He is good. Your child is good.  And you are good.

 

Press in to that, and press on.