I have three kids under the age of four. There is no such thing as control in my house. In fact, the more I try to pull it together, the crazier life gets.
I can’t remember the last time I arrived early to something. I plan to be somewhere at a certain time, but by the time Savannah has decided to change her clothes yet again, we’re already 30 minutes late. I can get myself ready in nothing flat, but it takes forever to pack the car as if we’re leaving for Singapore when we’re only going to the church nursery.
Last month, the dishwasher broke. The timing belt on my Suburban needs to be replaced. Some days I slip into feeling sorry for myself, yet I realize that my circumstances are way beyond anyone’s control at this point. What I worry about is my incredible guilt over being unable to control myself. I screamed at Jacob the other day when he stuck his popsicle into the DVD player. I mean, I got in his face and lost it. If people from church had seen me, they wouldn’t believe it. I could hardly believe it myself. It was like an out-of-body experience where I was off to the side watching this insanely bitter woman scream at her child. I honestly didn’t think I had a short fuse before I had children. I taught third grade (picture a roomful of electric Chihuahuas) for five years and loved it. Who knew my own children would be such a personal challenge?
I try to work through my anger and concentrate on being patient. Every night I ask God for the strength to keep my emotions in check. Yet by the end of each day I feel frazzled and frustrated. This is way beyond being hormonal. I’m just trying to survive each day and not emotionally scar my children for life.
Wanted: Woman in control of her emotions. Must be able to carry a screaming child out of grocery stores without committing an act of violence, kindly overlook a supervisor’s ignorance without retort, complete at least nine LLPW (Laundry Loads Per Week) and have the patience to repeat everything at least twice without breaking a tender smile. Training in volume control a plus.
Who could qualify for that job? Not many of us. We like to tell ourselves, “I’m in control,” but God isn’t fooled. The Bible says it’s impossible for us to keep a lid on what we say (see James 3:8). Look at Moses, God’s chosen leader—even he lost it (see Numbers 20). None of us is in perfect control of his or her emotions, and it’s OK to admit that we need help.
Feeling out of control? Remember …
Self-control is not a result of our own efforts; it is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23).
The Spirit provides the power we need to overcome the temptation to blast our kids, to let our unreasonable boss have it or to tell an obnoxious person exactly what we think. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is already living in us (see Romans 8:11).
Accountability can go a long way in self-discipline. Ask a good friend to hold you accountable for your anger by asking you how you handled your stress each day. Give your friend permission to probe your heart so you can identify the underlying issues that are driving your anger. It’s too easy to leave verbal casualties along the road of life.
If you have directed verbal or physical abuse toward your child, you have crossed a line and need to seek counsel right away. The wise woman asks for help when she needs it—even if she has to humble herself and admit she’s not perfect.
“Americans don’t like any area of life to be out of their control; in fact, 92 percent include ‘self-sufficient’ as one of their key self-descriptions.”