I am happy to introduce a new author this morning! She happens to be near and dear to my heart even though when she and I moved this summer we went in opposite directions on the map. Obviously, she is my sister, Margaret. I hope that you are encouraged by her account. I know that I was!
My morning was not going to go well. I knew this from the moment that I got up (late) and began rushing around trying to get the kids ready to start school on time.
First, there is always a tug-of-war to find the “right” outfit that Ivy likes. (“You want a skirt? Oh, a skirt with tights….but all the tights are in the wash…no, you can’t just wear a skirt and shirt – it’s freezing!! You must wear something on your legs! Ok, yes, you can wear that dress with leggings….what? No, the pink polka dotted leggings are in the laundry too. Find another pair. No, you can’t go digging in the laundry for them. IVY JUST PUT THIS DRESS ON AND COME DOWNSTAIRS!”)
Then we move to breakfast. (“Yes, you must eat all the oatmeal. Stop torturing your brother, Ivy. Clark, you can’t scream every time a tiny piece of oatmeal falls on your pants. You must lean in over your food…. Eric? Eric! What are you doing? Don’t shake your bottle upside down. All the milk is in a puddle on the floor!!!!”)
Breathe, breathe, breeeeeeeeathe.
By this point we are already behind schedule and my blood pressure is rising. Math looms ahead and inevitably, the kids will be happily playing together until I call Ivy to the table. The minute she and I sit down to start our lesson, chaos ensues. Eric is crying to get up on my lap. Clark begins crying because Eric knocked his blocks down, or worse, tried to bite him. But still, I resolutely begin math. (“Ivy, Ivy, remember doubles? Well today we are learning the reverse of the doubles. Ten minus five is five, twelve minus six is six….”) I had even made these nifty little domino flash cards that she could bend in the middle to show how to add and subtract doubles! Thank you Pinterest!
But the day keeps going downhill. Ivy glazes over, Eric cries, Clark is whiny and I’m about to lose my sanity.
I hustle Ivy into the laundry room and shut to door, trapping the chaos in the kitchen. So there I am, sitting beside my dryer frantically waving my cool, nifty, I-worked-long-and-hard-on-these domino cards in front of Ivy, vainly trying to hold her attention. Then a commotion erupts outside the laundry room. I see two little sets of feet peeking under the door. Banging ensues. Weeping follows. I look at the two little pairs of feel and yell (yes, I’m a sinner saved by grace, but….still a sinner) “BE QUIET AND GO PLAY!”
Silence reigns for a few seconds.
Then I hear, “And so the days past Anne and Diana…..” coming from the other side of the laundry room door. I throw my hands up, tell Ivy to sit and ponder the wonders of doubles and go investigate the source of the foreign voice. When I open the door I see that the computer is playing the audio version of “Anne of Green Gables,” but as I look from the computer screen down to the desk I see no keyboard or mouse. I swivel my head over and spot the culprits. Eric and Clark are standing there, each holding a piece of computer contraband. “Hand over the mouse and the keyboard now,” I say in a controlled, yet scary, voice. With keyboard and mouse secured I turn to stop the audio book.
Then Clark gives an ear-piercing, glass-shattering scream.
You might think that someone was dying, blood spurting everywhere. But no. Apparently Eric had simply picked Clark’s sippy cup up off the floor. That’s it. No one was injured, no bones were broken, but Clark was screaming like Lizzy Borden was after him with her axe.
And that’s when the bomb exploded. I blew my fuse. That last straw broke. How ever you want to put it, the flood gates opened and my emotions rush out. I was piping mad. This was the type of seething anger that caused little children’s hearts to beat a wee bit faster. This was the type of anger that resulted in a multitude of “yes ma’ams” and “no ma’ams” and “I’m sorry, sorry, sorry mommy!”
“SHOES….CAR…NOW!” I thunder. I decided that I needed to drive to Vicksburg so that I could talk to Tim (what a great lunch break for him!). Perhaps a bit extreme, but I knew that I needed to step away from the situation and calm down. Talking to Tim was the best way to do this. I was crying, my kids were crying (because I was crying) as we piled into the car.
As soon as I turned the ignition my stereo kicked on and a little ditty started playing. I heard, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Because the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The kid’s verse songs start melodiously floating around in our car. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, or the strong boast of their strength, or the rich boast of their riches. But let the one who boasts boast in this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”
In that moment, the Lord kindly convicted me.
When I am angry, I know for certain, without a doubt, that nothing righteous will be accomplished. However, it’s also true that my anger may still accomplish a goal. It may produce well behaved, obedient children. Thus, my anger may bring about MY agenda. It may yield some pretty nice results, but for certain, it will NOT produce the righteousness of God.
So I have to ask myself, “What is my goal as a mother?” The truth is that I probably value certain things too much. I value education. I value well behaved children. I value order. I value skill and strength. I push my kids towards these things. And many times, when life (late-mornings-and-stolen-keyboards-and-screaming-children life) gets in the way of that goal, I get angry.
But what am I accomplishing? I may get Ivy to sit still and learn. She may even excel! She may develop many skills and strengths! But will I have accomplished the righteousness of God in her life by making her do these things because she fears my anger? No. Without a doubt, the answer is no, I will not.
My goal as a mother is to teach my children about the reality of sin, our need for a savior and the great love of God. My anger will NEVER accomplish this. Never, never, never. I may have good goals (and you may have good goals that look different from mine), but demonstrating anger will not further the ultimate goal of pointing my children to God.
So when I start to feel angry I am at a crossroad of choice. I can get angry and possibly accomplish my will via fear and the promise of great person peril if my goals are not met. Or, I can lay down my proverbial “weapons,” lift my hands up and choose to step away from the situation believing that God was correct with he said, “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:20)
Are you angry? Nothing happening after anger will be for God’s glory. Well….nothing but repentance and the asking of forgiveness from the people hurt by that anger.
So I apologized to Ivy, Clark and even Eric for getting angry. And do you know what? That moment of humble honesty allowed me to tell them how I still struggle with sin but that my sin was paid for by the blood of Jesus. He took the ultimate punishment my sin deserves (Isaiah 53:5, I Peter 2:24) and I need his daily grace.
So in the end, my anger (and my subsequent repentance) did afforded me the opportunity to further a goal that I have as a mother. It wasn’t the goal that I originally had for my day, but it was valuable in a way that backwards doubles never will be. I pray that my choice produced the righteousness of God and that it was a tangible and memorable example to my children of his amazing grace working in my life.
So the next time I feel the anger bubbling up, I must decide if I value my will or God’s righteousness more. God can help me and he can help any believer who asks for strength to do what is hard, but right (2 Cor 12:9). If you are like me in this area, I hope that this post (this very honest post :) is an encouragement to you.
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