Proverbs 15:1 New Living Translation (NLT)
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 15:5 New Living Translation (NLT)
Only a fool despises a parent’s[a] discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.
These 2 verses go hand in hand in my life right now. Unfortunately, me and my children have been harsh and foolish instead of gentle and wise.
What is it in me that reacts so abruptly to disobedience in my children? I seem to have less and less patience for their errors recently- and it showed in my temper while on vacation. That, of course is the last place that you want conflict (6 people in a hotel room…) but, I suppose, when the kettle sits on the fire for so long, its bound to start screaming!
The real issue isn’t so much what my children are doing wrong, its that I am reacting in sin (not just anger) when they do.
Ephesians 4:26 New Living Translation (NLT)
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
So what is triggering these outbursts of emotions in me and squashing the fruit of the Spirit in my life?
Being offended….and not forgiving.
I’ve been a mother for more than a dozen years. In the beginning I was a 24-7 care giver and milking cow of an infant, than an infant and toddler, then an infant and 2 toddlers, then an infant, toddler & 2 kids! Although I was on call every moment of the day and night, I was given lots of hugs & affection & “mommy…I wuv you’s.” But eventually….that thing called sin began to emerge full force in their little lives. It started with “don’t touch that” “be nice to the kitty,” “be gentle with your sister” etc….but as the years progressed & the training of our children increased, so did their need for consistent discipline. Somewhere in the midst of those years, my heart began to harden towards them whenever I had to constantly re-teach & re-discipline in the same area over and over and over again. What I failed to realize is that bitterness & resentment had crept in and in order to survive in my role as stay at home mom, I began to just go through the motions of every day life…
Sadly, I am no the only mommy that has felt this way from time to time- but what is even more disturbing is that its almost taboo to talk about it! But, I’ve never been one that went along with the crowd, so here it is: the real struggles of a desperate housewife (& mom)!
While receiving ministry through RTF this area of unforgiveness towards my children surfaced what I was asked “Jodie…do you need to forgive your kids for ______?” I was stunned. The thought had never occurred to me. ME, forgive my kids? What for? I’m the parent, they’re the child…they are going to disobey! I’m supposed to disciple and train them….what needs to be forgiven?
Every offense against me….
Ignoring me when asking them to do something
Throwing a fit when told “no”
Giving me a dirty look while I explain why I said “no”
Mumbling and calling me names behind my back
Constantly interrupting my adult conversations
Playing instead of doing chores and school work
Talking disrespectfully to me
There’s plenty more….but I’ll stop there!
Shortly after I walked through the steps of forgiving each of my children I began walking in an abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self control. It was amazing! However, sometime after that….I slipped back into my old habits of being offending, yelling & occasionally saying choice adjectives because I was annoyed that I had to discipline my kids in the same areas over and over and over again! Eventually, I realized that I needed to walk through the steps of forgiving each of my children….again. Does the forgiveness and discipline and training every end? Uh…..no. Because I had to do it all again this week, after visiting the happiest place on earth!
After spending an entire day at Magic Kingdom and 4 days on a Disney Cruise (with a few thousand other people) I was exhausted! But when we added whining, sibling rivalry, disobedience & attitude from my kids….I quickly turned from Snow White into the wicked Queen! After snapping at my prince (who, really had done nothing wrong, but unfortunately received the brunt of my anger) I retreated to my castle, aka: bathroom (because it was the ONLY place I could be alone to have a melt down!) & spent the next hour sniveling and processing my exaggerated emotions with my husband. I discovered that deep down I felt disrespected and ultimately, unloved by my children and I had taken offense to their behavior instead of daily choosing to forgive them for being…..well, sinful kids.
It makes me wonder how many times I have offended My Father. How often has He disciplined and trained me as I continue to do the same stupid things over and over and over again? Yet, He still loves me and willingly sacrificed His Son for me. And, when I seek forgiveness- He is quick to give it and show me, once again, which path to take.
Regrettably, I don’t always model His perfect love towards my children. But, in my imperfection, I still have the opportunity to train them to repent and seek forgiveness. Which, a friend once told me is a “daily act of obedience.”
This morning, I asked for forgiveness for every way I have sinned again My Father….and He washed me White as Snow. Then, I chose to forgave each of the children that He has blessed me with. NOW, I am equipped with the fruit of Spirit to discipline and train my children over and over and over again….and I’ll even ‘whistle while I work!’