The verse of the day. We see them floating around everywhere. I love the apps, emails and the social media sharing of great verses. Today was this little jewel:
James 1:19 (TPT)
My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry.
Well if that isn’t a little bit of toe-smashing truth right there. It snagged my heart and I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee. Although this is not a new verse for me, my first thought in reading this verse is: I suck at the slow to anger part.
Now of course this is the Enemy inviting me into guilt and shame and tearing down my worth incident by incident. He was attempting to load the reel of bad mom moments in my mind to prove his case when I felt the sweet breeze of the Father’s love over me. I felt His gentle reminder that all of his kids have something they struggle with. One of mine is anger.
This might surprise some who read this as I am known for being more even keeled overall, and that is true in a lot of areas of my life. (In the most recent years, I have seen some major breakthrough in this struggle). The last few years are what I like to call, My Identity Recovery Journey, and it has a lot to do with my progress. I have discovered that my anger was tied to a desperate need to be seen and heard—to be validated for who I was. When I felt overlooked or marginalized, I got angry: louder, more vicious with my words, and quick to lash out. I felt dissenting opinions as personal attacks. I needed to defend me and my camp of thought with passion…which looked a lot like anger.
I started to see that my need to be seen as right usurped my need to be love to others. My need to be validated as good and right to others, sat behind the wheel. I would get angry as soon as I felt unsafe in my position. Now, I know who I am and whose I am. I rest in the fact that I am loved beyond belief and my position is secure whether I feel it in the moment or not. This has allowed me to be slow(er) to speak and quick(er) to listen and the those two choices coming first is what diffuses my anger…in most situations.
When it comes to my home life and being a mom, I am still very much a work in progress. Why is it the people we love most seem to get the worst of us more often than not? I wish I had answers to that timeless question. I don’t today, but I do know why they get more of my anger than anyone else: they are here all. the. time.
We are knee-deep in the season of reminding our children of the rules established in the home. This is known as the training stage according to Andy Stanley. He has broken child-rearing into four stages. If you haven’t heard of this breakdown before, I recommend doing so. HERE IS A LINK (to another blog that explains the 4 stages). Our children know the rules, but are prone to forgetfulness and their selfish desires are constantly battling for top spot. This creates a time in their lives when they—for the most part—happily exist within the boundaries of a home-centered life. The rules were established in the younger years and they are being reinforced in the pre-teen years (between 5-12). Discipline only comes into play when they break the rules. Here is where I tend to stumble. In my mind, they broke the rules on purpose.
They knew the rules and broke them anyway.
Now this is not true most of the time, but this is the lie I believe, and it triggers anger quickly. I feel wronged, offended—even taken advantage of—when people close to me (my husband and kids) “break the rules”. But it is not a truth, just because it feels true. So, what is true?
If I were slow to speak (out) and quick to listen (to Holy Spirit), how would my reaction be different? It would probably be very different from the times I walk away from the situation disappointed in how I handled it.
In my home life, what does this look like.
With my Husband:
Husband: Says/does something that I don’t like.
Me: Instead of giving into my knee-jerk reaction, I take a breath. Then I pause long enough to ask Holy Spirit to give me His perspective. I am reminded that my husband is for me and he loves me. Then I ask for a way to communicate my feelings without anger.
With my kids:
Kid: Does/says something I don’t like.
Me: My “mom yell” gets held up at the gate of choice. I breathe and ask Holy Spirit for wisdom and to calm my unsteady emotions. I ask for wisdom in guiding my words. I listen to the kid if the situation warrants an explanation. Then, I move forward with the idea that I am training this child to see conflict and deal with conflict and communicate needs and feelings properly.
Now this is all easy to say and difficult to live out in the moment. My suggestion—and something I am trying to put into practice—is to do this in the little times. Practicing when it seems easy, when I am in a good place and anger is not what rose to the surface. This way, when it is a bad day—or I am in a bad place emotionally—it will be a habit and not a forced action.
I want to end with a prayer today. I hope this encourages you if you (like me) are still working the kinks out of your imperfect soul.
Father in Heaven, I am so thankful that you long for us to overcome our struggles. You look to empower us through the shortcomings in our lives as your Word says your power is made perfect in our weakness. Therefore, just as Paul did, I can boast in my weakness all the more, because I know those areas are primed for you to show your glory! Continue to shower me with grace as I battle the Enemy’s taunting and bring scripture to mind that encourages me when I am feeling acutely aware of my shortcomings. I thank you for your truth and love that carries me through until you return. In your precious name I pray, amen.