Last week, I got really mad at my son because he put his stuffed animal in the brown sugar tub. When he took it out, brown sugar sprayed all over the table and floor, and who knows where else, as he brought the stuffed animal back to his bed.
OK, not a big deal, but did you know we had an ANT problem just a while ago? I was mad.
“Am I raising stupid kids?” I asked out loud.
My oldest daughter tells Andy when I say mean things.
Later that night, Andy asked me what had happened, and of course I was embarrassed for not being able to control my tongue in front of the kids.
“Will you please forgive me?” I asked my daughter. “I know you guys are not stupid. You are all so great. I was just so frustrated, and I could not understand why your brother would make such a mess.”
I have learned that much: to ask for forgiveness. But that is an after-the-fact solution. What about a way to stop my tongue from lashing out in the first place?
On Sunday at church, just after I was feeling ashamed about my parenting, the founders of Soul Shepherding spoke, and I will be forever thankful for a tool that they shared about how to pray when we get stressed out.
They said that Jesus gives us an example of how to act when we are frustrated: he abruptly begins to pray to the Father and give praise to God even in his frustration—mid conversation—and then comes back to speak to the people tenderly. (Matthew 11:25-30.)
So when I don’t know what to do or say, I can follow Jesus’ example and abruptly begin to tell my heavenly Father about my frustration. Or better yet, give him praise for His wisdom and His ways.
The mean things I said to the kids were really prayers. “Am I raising stupid kids, God? Give me wisdom!” I should have addressed my Heavenly Father with that question, not the kids themselves. They don’t know how to answer that question, and it came across like an insult to them and hurt their feelings.
My goal is to teach and guide my kids. I don’t want to shame them. I love them! If anything, I can teach them by example: how to speak tenderly to the people they love, even in a moment of frustration and anger.
God can handle my honest questions. So I will abruptly pray to my Heavenly Father from now on.
In fact, I tried it today. God and I had a little conversation on the couch where I told him what I was feeling. I cried a little bit, but it was good. Much better than expressing my frustration to the kids.
I would like to invite you to try using this tool this week. Turn your frustration abruptly into prayer. Tell your Heavenly Father what you are thinking and feeling. Ask him for a solution. See what new ideas he has for you, a way to solve your problem that is so smart you will know the idea didn’t come from you but from the God who created you.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” — James 3:9-10
My oldest daughter made me this beautiful watercolor painting for Mother’s Day this year. I can’t even explain how much it means to me. How sweet to get a reminder like this from my own child. We must be doing something right.