One morning a few months ago, like too many mornings, I was rushing my children out the door—leaving patience, kindness, and self-control scattered among the Legos. In the midst of my frenzy I started noticing the mounting pile of things I was growing aggravated about. Children fussing about leggings that were getting pushed up, misplaced shoes hiding under coats that had fallen off hangers, various things out of place (or that didn’t have a place to begin with), being big, pregnant and out of breath and unable to carry as many things at once. Also, It is so stinking cold and I have no idea where my mittens are!
There I was, getting stupid angry with my stupid, angry self for being stupid and angry again.
All at once, a conversation popped into my head that I had many years ago while working in a daycare center. After being around so many lovesick two-and-a-half-year-olds, I became convinced that children need their mother at home. The other woman I was talking to said, “Not all women are cut out to stay at home.”
I knew it was a lie then. I know it more now. But, as I struggled out the door that day, I sort of believed it. I thought about the new baby on the way, and thought, I’m just not cut out for this. They’re going to have to put me in an institution.
You know the spiral. Rough morning scramble to get out the door, fussy nap time protesters, cranky bedtime routine. Doing it all by yourself, again.
It’s so easy to cross that fine line of being under control and pressing on cheerfully to totally flipping your lid in an instant. And then you’ve blown it again. Despair, anger, even more edginess. Even when you do make some small repentance you lack the faith to fully trust in the Holy Spirit’s power to work. How many times have you repented before, and failed again, minutes later?
In the van now and on our way, my screaming children finally shackled to their seats, I thought of some more things to grumble about. I knew a little getaway was coming that weekend, so in an attempt to escape the little prods that bring my sin to the surface, I was tempted to muscle through believing that it would be better once I have a little time away. All I wanted was an escape hatch.
Thankfully though, the Holy Spirit was breaking through to my hard heart. He was showing me of course that:
It’s not my children. It’s not my partially unpacked and disorderly house. It’s not the weather. It’s not anyone or anything else that’s causing these angry episodes.
Yeah. It’s me.
Later that afternoon I sat down with the kids and apologized to them for being angry and asked for their forgiveness. I won’t say I wasn’t reluctant to do so. I get that I have to confess my sins to God, but my kids? Really? Shouldn’t I be an example of holiness to them? Won’t they find an excuse for their own sin if they understand that Mama is a sinner too?
Well, that’s not how it worked out this time. They quickly gave me their forgiveness, and we had a good talk about how we all need God’s help when we sin and how Mama was no different.
And God blessed that little step of obedience with peace. Baby steps of faith bring blessing. God is not a miserly, hard-to-please father.
Here’s the point. Being a mother is hard. Dealing with other people (of any size), day in and day out, who see your sin and you theirs, is hard. Loving anyone else besides ourselves is hard. We need lives of humble obedience and repentance, not half-hour bursts of perfection, with five-minute breaks to lock ourselves in the bathroom and scream. We need real confession and real forgiveness.
Don’t let the spiral get out of control. Cut it short and repent.