Like many other mothers raised by hurt and angry mothers, I was convinced that I would never speak hatefully to my children. I was raised by a woman who experienced abuse, shame, betrayal, prejudice, and neglect. In turn, she set out to be the best mother she knew how to be...and had both more love and dedication to give, and also more anger and fear. I was confident I would only repeat the good and not the unkind.
But almost 12 years of raising sons has taught me that the challenges of motherhood do not make us lose our temper, blow our fuse, or treat our children with disdain. The pressures, constancy, exhaustion, and trying seasons of mothering only reveal the sin that was already there or the propensity towards it.
The three primary contexts in which my anger festers easily around here:
1) Homeschooling (when it doesn't go well), 2) Chaos and a messy home, and 3) Whining and fighting.
Does that cover it for you too? I've been shocked to see how much I resort to the belittling, manipulating, yelling, threatening, and self-pitying I was sure I would never allow in my parenting. I had made up my mind, read the right books, made the best plans, and given my greatest effort. And, I still struggle with anger towards my children.
But, here's the thing:
It's not what will keep us from becoming so angry, but rather, what will overcome it? It's not how to keep the the avalanche from crashing down, but how to grow a deeply rooted forest where rocks once teetered helplessly.
I don't know if you've tried it lately, but you simply can't just manage your anger. Anger must be replaced and overcome with something...better. Better than hating, better than getting your own way, better than self-centeredness, better than making someone else pay for your unhappiness.
And for those of us in Christ, the only thing BETTER is having Christ...is being in His grace. It's indisputably better. Undeniably more satisfying. Yet, so easily forgotten.
Because, when you are starving and searching for anything in the fridge to take away the hunger pangs, what you will always run to is what's easy, what will make the ache go away, right away. Unless the fridge is stocked with what is good, we will always run to what appeals to the flesh. We'll run to it...and regret it later.
And, so for all the times I've regretted the angry words, the indignant look, the growl in my voice, or the feeling out of control, I'm remembering to fill up with what is true, what is good, what is grace, what is Christ, himself.
Even if it means that I give myself a mama time-out. Even if it means I repent, reconcile, and restore the relationship once again with my children. Even if motherhood has revealed the tendency towards anger that I could so easily dismiss.
It's never too late to soak up the Gospel once again, and for anger to be overcome by deep, unyielding grace. When the forest grows up lush with gratitude and mercy, there's no avalanche but the flood of amazing grace.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Romans 12:21
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