A jolt ran through me. A very specific chill of understanding. I can’t remember exactly how he said it but, in a moment of heated frustration, my husband basically told me to go on screaming at our kids like I “always” do.
They were probably 2 and 3 years old at the time. Maybe younger.
I stopped. Stared. Saw my two precious charges for whom I had prayed years to receive. And I crumbled. Embarrassed and ashamed, I swore to gain better self-control. To find another way to vent my frustrations and weariness.
My writing journey started around that same time. A healthy (and much quieter) alternative to emotional outbursts.
Several years later these charges are still as precious, and they now vent their own frustrations, too often in not-so-precious ways. One screams, hits, throws, and slams doors. The other whines, cries, reverts, and withdraws. I stand in the midst of the hurricane knowing I can’t scream; I can’t stomp; I can’t cry; because doing any of those things would only aggravate their responses and worsen our situation and environment.
So much for a peaceful home.
Those who know my family well may wonder how I could possibly be describing the sweet little Dennis kids they see around town or at church. For the most part, our home IS peaceful. Our kids get along; they obey and show respect. Oh, but there are days —
There are days when stress invades and sensitivities rise. There are days (like the 20 minutes before school this morning) when I must take more than a few deep breaths. I try to remain patient while internally stewing. It kinda bites that I worked so hard to get my temper under control just to be yelled at every morning. To be whined at over the smallest provocations. I stew and I wonder …
Are these habits inherited or learned?
Is this proof of the damage done when they were little? Have I so scarred my children? Failed to reform quickly enough?
Is this my penance for being such a terrible parent?
As I dwell on these questions, silently pleading for enlightenment, I notice something:
All my speculations point to me.
It’s my fault. My doing. My job to fix.
Ah, I think far too highly of myself sometimes.
God is still bigger. God is still greater.
My kids were rotten before they witnessed my rottenness. Even if they had the perfect mother, they would still be rotten. And nothing I can do will ever make them perfect and innocent. Oh, I can train them to control their tempers and teach them healthy ways to vent their frustrations, but they, like me, will simply stew in the midst of dramatic hurricanes.
You see, we’re all rotten … but God isn’t.
What’s even better: His goodness eclipses our rottenness.
And so I take another deep breath. I center my patience knowing that even my acquired self-control owes Him credit. I embrace grace. Again. And believe Him when He says His mercies are new every morning. Every morning! Even mornings like this.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB)
I believe Him when He says nothing is too difficult for Him. He can fix me. He can fix the kids I’ve messed up. He can fix my messed up kids.
“Oh, Lord God! You Yourself made the heavens and earth by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!” – Jeremiah 32:17 (HCSB)
I believe Him when He says He is good and I am forgiven.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:1 (ESV)
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” – 1 John 2:12 (ESV)
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” – Acts 13:38 (NIV)
“…you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV)
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” – Romans 4:& (NIV)
Today may have started as one of those days. But tomorrow is a new day, and I plan to start it with all of these truths in mind.
TALK TO ME: What encourages you on “those” days? You know, the days when frustration takes over and guilt and insecurity crowd in.