Today I’m sharing a guest post from Amber Lia, coauthor of Triggers, Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses (affiliate link). I got to read a pre-release copy of Triggers, and it’s an excellent resource for any mom who feels out-of-control with her emotions but wants to show God’s love and patience with their children instead. I hope you enjoy this post!
I had had enough. As a mom of three boys, I was used to the fact that I lived in a “Testoster-HOME” of deafening noise, stinky odors, and mud-tracked floors. But when the ball flew through the air and hit me in the head, it was the last straw! I had already been stepped on, pushed, and accidentally run over by a skateboard, all in the span of an hour.
“NO MORE!” I roared.
All three of my boys stood looking at me with eyes wide open in surprise. They were used to their mom being tough, able to roll with the punches. Literally. My frustration overpowered their kinetic energy and they waited for me to continue.
Instead, I sat down on the floor in a heap and sighed heavily.
Some days, the physical demands and lack of personal space can get to me. I’m a girly-girl, and there is nothing I love more than a mani-pedi and high tea with friends. Instead, most days I am chasing Nerf gun darts and wrestling with my sons. Don’t get me wrong, I love that! But, in my moment of weakness, it seemed to me that I had every right to have a pity party and demand an injury-free zone that encompassed a five-foot circumference around me.
I had similar moments when my kids were younger, too.
We moved to a small town several years ago, and I found myself without family and only a few friends. I was a stay-at-home mom of a four-year-old, an almost two-year-old, and a newborn baby. My husband worked insane hours and I would go for days on end without ever getting out of my pajamas. My brain was turning to sludge and I felt like all I did on any given day was breastfeed and change diapers. Repeat. I had to carry one kid in a carrier on my back while I cradled the other in front and tried to keep an eye on the third running around the house. I felt like my body belonged to everyone but me.
As a mom with young and needy children, and now as a mom with older kids who often catch me in the crosshairs of their rough-and-tumble play, I can get to the point where I simply say, “Enough!” It would be very easy for me to crumble under a self-focused and defeatist outlook. But I don’t have to.
Our attitudes are what we make them.
I don’t really have to get angry. I don’t really have to be quick to anger and lose my self-control. I don’t really have to tell myself that I deserve to have peace and quiet. And I don’t really have to give in to the temptation to think that in those harried moments, my life would be better if I could just have my own space.
The truth is that when I am pouring myself out for others, I am being like Christ.
He didn’t have nice digs, fancy clothes, or an entourage of assistants. Jesus lived simply, pouring Himself out for others, even to the point of great fatigue and distress. He did all of those things with you and me in mind. And He did it out of unconditional love.
In chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Matthew, we get a glimpse at Jesus’ work ethic and attitude when others placed high demands on Him and infringed on His personal space. He went from town to town healing people, casting out demons, combating the Pharisees who judged His motives and power, and calming storms on the sea. He preached in the synagogues, taught the crowds, and spent time training his disciples. Even his meals were interrupted by those in need. The crowds pressed in around Him so closely that a sick woman reached out to touch His cloak and was healed. (Matthew 9:20)
Although Jesus often took time for Himself, on this particular day, it seemed He could never catch a break.
And He didn’t.
After all those endless demands, Matthew 9:36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus could very well have sat down with a heavy sigh and told everyone to go away. He too could have roared, “NO MORE,” but He didn’t. He had compassion.
Jesus understands our weaknesses. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4 that Jesus experienced the same enticements we do when He walked on earth as God in human flesh, and yet He never sinned. The Message puts it like this:
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, MSG)
Jesus sympathizes with us when we would rather have a mud bath at a spa than wipe dirt from our floors. He knows what it feels like to have temptation breathing down our necks. That’s what makes Him so willing and able to extend mercy to us in our times of weakness. He is ready to help us when we ask.
I’m not saying that moms can’t take care of themselves or that we should feel guilty for taking breaks away from kids or having date nights with our spouses. Those are good things that we need to do and should do. But I’m wondering if you, like me, have room for growth in the attitude and perspective department. The Christian life is the servant life.
It’s not a life where personal space rules; it’s a life where pouring out ourselves for others reigns.
When my four-year-old thinks he’s my third leg and I can’t take two steps in front of me without tripping over him, I can treat him with compassion. He wants to be near ME! That’s a gift! I don’t need to think of it as an annoyance, do I?
When my boys are running past me with no regard for me and they elbow me in their haste, I can respond biblically, right? I can calmly, but firmly, say, “Hey, boys! I love that you have so much energy and I want you to have fun. But I also want you to be considerate of others. Ladies don’t like to be elbowed. At least this one sure doesn’t! Please take your game outside.” I don’t have to scream in frustration or sigh in annoyance. I can respond biblically with compassion and gentleness.
If I see a need, I can set aside time to train my kids with a loving attitude so they understand my expectations, and I can be patient with them as they learn, can’t I?
And at the end of the day, even if my children still don’t understand my needs for personal space, my example is to persevere, believing that I have a loving Father who is familiar with all my ways and waits to give me both grace and strength to do it again the next day.
Jesus left His throne of perfection to dwell among mankind and give up all His rights for my sake and for yours. Surely, we can alter our perspectives as mothers and extend a portion of that kind of sacrifice in our own homes. Let’s welcome our kids into our personal space and be a reflection of our very personal Lord and Savior.
Dear Jesus, Your example to us is one of selflessness and total humility. Out of compassion, You extended Yourself to incorporate the needs of others. You treated others as You would want to be treated, often at Your own expense for personal comfort. I know that we need to take care of ourselves, but I don’t need to react with anger or frustration when my own needs are not being met. Lord, help me to be more like You! Search my heart and see if there is any selfishness in me and replace it with humility. Allow Your Holy Spirit to change my need for more personal space with a willingness to lay down my life for the sake of my children. Accept this as an act of worship, Jesus—a sacrifice of praise to You! In Your Name, Amen!
This post is taken from the book, Triggers, Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. If you struggle with anger or yelling, I encourage you to order a copy of Triggers. This book will both equip you in practical ways to handle 31 of the most common triggers toward anger in motherhood, and spiritually uproot sinful anger from your heart for good. For more information about Triggers, visit Amber and Wendy here.
A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 3 little boys under the age of 8. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).