parenting has been perhaps the most sanctifying thing in my life, besides my marriage. i find myself being more needy than ever for God to show up in big ways. not in my child's behavior but in my own heart.
at first my prayer was, Lord help my kids to change. and then i got a big fat mirror put in my heart and God told me i needed to change. you'll see this with our gratefulness journey through christmas and now you'll get to watch it as we deal with anger in our home.
our family has a problem with anger. every single one of us. our first response when something doesn't go our way is yelling. throwing fits. punishment. i'm not talking like it's just my kids doing that, i'm saying me and my husband do this too. in fact, the best i can gather, our kids learned it from us.
of course, i'm not saying any issue our kids deal with is solely what they gathered from our parenting, but i'm ok with taking responsibility when it's pretty clear.
what is clear is that this is a new stage of parenting for us as we deal with the older kids--we've moved from a mostly physically demanding stage, to a much more emotionally demanding time where heart issues are more apparent, budding, and needing quite a bit of shepherding. through this, i have seen that i need more help than tips and tricks of parenting.
i remember reading Shepherding a Child's Heart a year ago by tedd tripp and it tore me up. at the time, i didn't believe i had issues with anger, but now that our 6 year old is dealing with his own anger, the mirror is up and i'm standing there saying, me too. that 6 year old is me.
tripp says, Correction is not displaying your anger at their offenses; it is rather reminding them that their sinful behavior offends God.
and when i thought about when i display correction...it was when my kids were bothering me. when they were in my way. when they made my life harder that day. when they frustrated me because i was tired of working on that same behavior. certainly not because they were offending God... that's laughable.
i wasn't even yelling because i wanted to be heard. it was something deeper in my heart. i was yelling because something was going on in my heart. it is FULL of wrath and anger. don't get me wrong, i do yell to be heard sometimes...like for safety issues or something... choose my voice not the electrical socket!
but as God was making me more aware of my own anger, he was also taking away all the excuses i had to be angry. no one was making me angry. no child or husband, no matter what they do gives me the right to sin in my response. the anger was in there, waiting for an opportunity to sic itself on a passersby at any moment. what a pleasant word picture.
tripp again says:
If you allow unholy anger to muddy the correction process, you are wrong. You need to ask for forgiveness. Your right to discipline your child is tied to what God has called you to do, not your own agenda. Unholy anger- anger over the fact that you are not getting what you want form your child- will muddy the waters of discipline. Sadly, most correction occurs as a by- product of children being an embarrassment or irritation, and the child learns then about the fear of man not the fear of God. Unholy human anger may teach your children to fear you. They may even behave better, but it will not bring about biblical righteousness.
my anger in dealing with my family was certainly not holy anger. as christians, we like to use that term to make it ok to be vengeful about things we're wildly passionate about.
it's important to remember that we are wildly passionate about ourselves most often above every cause.
in fact, there are many verses in the bible telling us that anger does not accomplish much and can be extremely harmful. i'll let you google them because i'm lazy.
the point is, i didn't think my anger was a big deal until i saw that it was. until i felt like i was not just sinning against my kids and husband but that i was sinning against God.
it also is difficult to see the problem when others encourage our sin. what a shame it is that many of us, even as believers(me included!), pat each other on the back when we tell of how angry we got at our kids/husband/whomever today. oh me too. it's just this stage! instead of saying, did you repent of that?run to God! he's your only hope for change!
(i mean, you don't have to use exclamations like that and you should probably buffer it with I'M MESSED UP TOO...just repeating the above phrase will lose friendships quick! but you get the gist...we're talking heart posture here.)
and so it began. with awareness of how great my sin was.
which lead to sadness over my sin.
then feeling helpless to my emotions and anger. and i needed some crazy help.
at this point, i repented for sinning against God. saw that Jesus paid for this sin and that He could help me do better by His power.
if you see your sin and try and do better the next day, you will fail at some point and feel an immense amout of guilt and shame for not being able to conquer the issue.
you feel this way because of a deeper issue. because you can not conquer sin! it's an arrow pointing to our need for something bigger. the cross.
i have needed the cross these past weeks more than ever in my parenting as i feel like i'm running on empty. but the truth is, i am empty. i am bankrupt and need his love to come into me so i can give it to others.
this week has been better. i have noticed i am not as angry, not as spewing when something doesn't go my way. it's been really nice to to have to live under the mean cloud.
don't get any ideas of sainthood over here... i have still been angry, but am quicker to stop and ask God for forgiveness first, then my kids. i ask God for supernatural change and rely on him to do the real work. i am not in this to behavior modify. i want the real deal.
Shepherding a Child's Heart
by tedd tripp