“Lord, why do I keep feeling so frustrated! I want to hold my tongue, but as soon as my kids do something to set me off, I lose it. Help!”
This was a common prayer for me when my kids were very young. Home alone with three kids under age four, I often felt like I was simply trying to keep my head above water. My boys were little–and needy–as kids are. I wanted to be cool and calm, but more often than I liked, I felt anger rise in my spirit. Each day ended with regret.
One day, I was at the end of my rope. I was determined that this new day was going to look different than the hundreds of days before. On this day, I was going to slow down. Calm down. Hold my tongue. Invite the Holy Spirit to rule my heart. And my mouth! I committed to doing THREE things that began my journey away from frustration anger toward gentle biblical responses.
1) I committed to quiet time with my Bible for 20 minutes during my boys’ nap times. Each day, I took one verse that related to my issues in parenting and my reactions and meditated on it. I focused on the one verse, every day until I felt it was becoming a part of my spirit and having an impact on my daily responses.
2) I committed to praying for my heart to change and for my children to be blessed by me as their mother. I set a timer to go off several times a day to remind me to stop and pray for my area of growth and each of my boys. Often, I held their hands and invited them to pray WITH me.
3) I committed to memorizing some key verses that related to my anger issues and the changes I wanted God to work in my life as a mom. Proverbs 19:11 was a key verse for me:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11, ESV)
I wanted to be a wise mom who had “good sense” in her parenting. I didn’t want to hold anything against my children–but instead to overlook offenses and be a forgiving mom. I asked God to give me discernment about what issues needed more coaching on my part, which issues were just immaturity in my kids and where they might need my patience, and which issues were ones I could overlook and offer grace.
Slowly but surely, God transformed me from an angry mom to a gentle one. I began to feel the peace of God in my mothering. My decisions became more confident as I applied God’s Word to my everyday moments with my children. And my relationship with the Lord became sweeter than it had ever been before! Blessing always follows obedience. Not just for our kids, but for moms too when we obey the Lord in our mothering.
It’s been many years now since that day when I resolved to let God change me. Since then, I have continued to grow and change, right alongside my kids. In our book, Triggers, I write that it takes a childhood to train a child. That’s 18 years! It will take just as long for me to grow as a parent. As our kids move from one stage of childhood to the next, the challenges will shift and change, but when we commit to living out gentle biblical parenting, we can be assured that the journey away from angry parenting is one we will never regret.
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