There is a mean girl living inside of me. She looks exactly like me…until she opens her mouth. The worst part about her is she tends to show herself to some of the most beloved people in my life, my children.
It makes no sense, but sometimes I can be incredibly hateful and short with the biggest blessings God has ever given me. I sat and thought on it and realized that just maybe it’s because not every single moment of parenting screams “blessing”!
Allow me to paint you a picture. It has been one of the longest mornings of mommy-hood in my life. Everything my kids can do wrong has been done with flair. Glorious naptime arrives and for the first time all day my butt connects with the couch. Just as I start to truly relish the quiet, I hear rustling from the girl’s room. I tiptoe to the door and listen….”Mooommmyyyy, I poop!” Down the stairs I go and there stands my Bella in her crib, pant-less. It would appear I have a little Picasso on my hands and with no crayons in sight, she has decided to improvise. Here comes my mean girl. As I look upon the mess that I have the privilege of cleaning up, my mind is reeling “NOTHING about this moment shouts blessing!!”
I lectured my 2 year old with enough vehemence to make a military general retreat. Half a bottle of bleach & one bath later, the smoke clears and I realize just how foolish I would have sounded had anyone been listening in. My daughter didn’t do anything different than nearly every other child has done at some point. But I was so tired and frustrated from a very long morning and she made an easy target for me to unload on.
However, I refused to let my mean girl win. Just because “she” felt justified in her response, didn’t make it right. So I used the best weapon I have to shut her up, the Bible. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom when it comes to controlling our anger.
“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” (14:29)
The next time one of my children, or anyone else for that matter, throws a crick into my day, I have to choose to exercise understanding over acting a fool.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (15:1)
When my knee-jerk reaction is to respond with a hot-temper, I am teaching my children to do the same. With every harsh word I speak, I’m stirring up the “mean girl/boy” inside of them just dying to come out.
“Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” (19:11)
Some wrongs cannot be overlooked when it comes to parenting, but as a wise woman once said, “You have to pick your battles.” Thanks Mom, as always, you were right. Respect is something that everyone craves but few work to get. Granted it is a given that children should respect their elders, we make it far easier on them when we express grace & mercy rather than going off like a raving lunatic.
This is obviously an area where I am a work in progress. There are days when I feel like I should be wearing a warning, “Caution: Mean girl crossing.” It is by God’s grace that I can and will overcome. I ain’t no quitter! On the most difficult days when I struggle to bite my tongue, my goal is to recall the words of James 1:19:
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.”
Sometimes it is to my benefit to count to 100 before I open my mouth!