Art by Aurora Andrews
February 3, 2013
I struggle. A lot. We all have areas in our lives that plague us. Mine is anger. I never considered myself an angry person. Low tolerance, non-existent patience, and an inability to suffer those I considered stupid. (And that could be a good many people on any given day.) All those things I can readily admit to. But anger? No, that just wasn’t me. It took a husband, four children, and a lot of “stupid” people for me to realize that all those things I could easily admit to being basically boiled down to a well-controlled anger. I never exploded in a violent outburst, throwing things across the room, and yelling like some lunatic. That is until recently. I seem to have lost my ability to control myself. My already low tolerance and non-existent patience took a turn for the worse.
I could say it’s hormonal but my doctor says it’s not.
I could say I’m sleep deprived. And though I am tired A LOT, I get eight hours of sleep almost every night.
I could blame it on my husband for adding to my burdens, but I would be a liar. Sure he asks things of me I would not otherwise need to deal with. He does things, too, that can drive me up a wall. But the problem is not him, it’s me.
I could say being the mother of four is the cause. And that does present a challenge to someone who is used to having things her way. I am surrounded by three little people (my fourth, really my first, is away at college – a whole other list of worries and stresses) who have no concern for my needs, wants, desires, or plans. They want what they want when they want it. Not a good situation to have four strong-willed, demanding individuals under one roof, all day, every day. But that is what we have and I’m the grown-up. I’m the Mom. It is my job to teach my children to control their anger. To handle their frustrations and hurts in a Biblical way. To die to self, and live for Christ.
I have failed more often than I have succeeded. And have modeled all the wrong things. Recently, I have reread How to Win the Heart of a Rebel by Dr. S.M. Davis. In this booklet he introduces us to the destructive force of anger by using King David and Absalom as a case study. Written for fathers, I found much of the strategies to be useful for Mom too.
Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart.” It is a reminder that if we want our children to listen to our instruction we must first have their hearts. You CANNOT gain someone’s trust when you’re erupting in fits of anger. I cannot raise Godly children if I am behaving in an unGodly manner. At best I’ll be seen as a hypocrite. At worst I’ll cause my children to turn their backs on their God entirely. After all, if that is what being a Christian is all about why would they want any part of it?
Dr. Davis bottom line advice is this: The key ingredient in raising Godly children is to get their hearts early, keep their hearts, and be extremely vigilant to not lose their hearts. And if you do lose it, quickly find out when and where and then do whatever it takes to get it back, not matter what the cost.
For me, I know when and where. I know what is happening while it is happening. My problem is in stopping it from happening in the first place. It is a very humbling thing to confess your sins to your child and beg for their forgiveness. But that is where I find myself all too often.
The verse from Galatians 5:19-20 says, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” The point is, that we would never subject our children to 99% of this list; why, then do we subject them to our anger?
Listen, talk, touch. These three things are how Absalom won the hearts of the men of Israel. And how Dr. Davis suggests I win the hearts of my children. This is not an easy thing for me. I am not one to sit around chatting. I do not engage well. And I don’t initiate conversation. I often find the things my children want to do with me are things I have absolutely no desire to do. And so, I put them off hoping they’ll forget and move on to something else. I am learning though that I cannot do this. I need to play dollies and legos. I need to drop everything and sit around chatting. And I need to stop saying “Because I told you to, end of subject!”
How to Win the Heart of a Rebel end with a 12 Step program, which actually has 15 steps, to help parents win back the hearts of their children. Among them are things like: confess and ask for forgiveness, self-evaluation, and time. Maybe I should print them out and post them on my wall as a constant reminder of what I should be doing.
Next step learning to deal with my Mommy anger.
“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” - James 1:20