I never really thought of myself as an angry mom.
Oh sure, back when I only had one child and that one child was so amazingly busy and curious and I was so amazingly inexperienced and uptight, there were nights I went to bed kicking myself for all the yelling and grouching I had aimed at that precious little boy sleeping peacefully in the room next door. He exhausted me to the point of not wanting anymore children.
But, after God changed my heart on the matter of raising up little ones for His glory, I began to see it was my attitude, not my son’s, that had made my mothering so difficult. By that time, I had 2 children and my whole world changed for the better simply because I took Psalm 127 seriously when it says children are a BLESSING.
You would think a mother who had experienced such a loss would never, ever yell at her children because losing a child makes you realize just how precious these little lives surrounding you are. Sadly, loss of this kind does not make you Super Mom, no matter how acutely aware of the brevity of life you may be.
I talk in my eDevotional for grieving families about not letting bitterness take root. I speak from experience.
My bitterness took on a rather strange form. I became critical. Critical of everything and everybody. That critical view on life bled over into my home life, where I would find myself upset by nearly everything the children did. Rather than seeing their behavior as foolishness that needed my gentle guidance and correction, I began to take personal offense to what they did.
I was also highly critical of myself. I never felt like anything was right. Everything seemed out of control. I was frustrated and depressed.
Even after I was able to let go of the bitterness, I still found myself angry and cynical and critical more often than I cared to admit. It was so out of character for me, yet I subconsciously hung on to it until it nearly took over.
I’ve always told people losing my daughter did not steal my joy. That was the truth. Our family is a very fun-loving, close-knit family, but there was something deep within me that was not having fun. I was living with a deep-seeded grouchiness. A grouchiness that only occasionally reared its head for all to see. The rest of the time it manifested itself in gritted teeth and mournful sighs, quick words and barked orders.
Is it any wonder I started to see hints of sassyness in my children? Should it have surprised me when I heard anger in my daughter’s voice or criticism of others in my son’s conversation?
I knew even the deepest recesses of my heart were somehow managing to penetrate the surface and affect my family despite my best attempts to suppress them. Yet, even my husband could not see it in me despite the fact he was able to feel the affects of it. It was well hidden.
It was confusing to me at first. How could I have conquered the outbursts of anger and still be seeing such anger in my children? Wasn’t self-control enough? How could I think I was not an angry mom, yet notice how my jaw hurt every night; most assuredly from holding it tense throughout the day? How could I say I was joyful, yet feel so empty and depressed?
That’s why I decided to take an afternoon to listen to Dr. S.M. Davis’ sermon entitled Freedom from a Spirit of Anger. (You can listen to this sermon here: http://media.sermonindex.net/19/SID19913.mp3 – this link seems to change a lot, so if it doesn’t work, do a search and you should be able to find it) This sermon blew me away! It spoke right to my heart…THE heart of the matter.
It isn’t enough to control your outbursts of anger. It isn’t enough to root out surface anger. It isn’t enough to look the part. You have to dig deeper. You have to break free from a spirit of anger. And this spirit doesn’t always look like anger. Sometimes it looks like bitterness or cynicism, or criticism or just plain ole grumpiness.
It can rise to the surface as self-righteousness or depression or even sassyness.
So, what did I do to grab hold of this beast and toss it out of my life?
*I asked God to forgive me for allowing a spirit of anger to rule in my life for so long.
*I asked my family to forgive me for the way I had behaved in the past and pointed out and asked forgiveness for the continued behavior that resulted from this habit of anger.
*Even though my family said they were unable to readily see my reactions and retorts, they agreed to gently point them out to me. This, in and of itself, helped ME to be more aware of how I was saying things.
*I began practicing joy. I tell my children quite often, “you become what you practice.” It’s true for adults too! In order to walk away from a spirit of anger, I had to practice a spirit of JOY!
I saw results almost immediately! I saw where conversations that were usually steeped in negativity turned around to be more joyful. I saw where my quick retorts and harshness when dealing with the children were replaced by gentleness and longsuffering. I saw the funk I had been living in lifted and my jaw no longer ached and my day no longer felt insurmountable.
It is sad to wake up one day and realize you have set the tone in your household and it wasn’t the most melodious or God-honoring tone. But REJOICE! For that day is the very day God may use to turn things around. Though you once were blind, you now can see, and He is faithful to lead you directly to the place you need to be to be more like Him.