Believe it or not, I make mistakes. Moms sometimes make mistakes.
We can blame it on exhaustion, "hanger," or stress, but we do mess up. And since we have young ones around a lot, we often mess up in front of them. Sometimes, the mess up wrongs them.
Some days are so rough that my only hope is to cling to that verse in Philippians. You know the one, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" (1:6, NLT). Because really, I hope this is not as good as I get! Can I get an amen!
Our attitudes are not perfect 100% of the time, but God keeps working.
Our words are not wise and kind every time we speak, but God never gives up.
Our hearts get crowded with garbage, but God redirects us.
I love that phrase, "But God..." don't you? You know what it says to me? It tells me I don't have to do it all on my own. I'm not capable of changing for the good, but God! I lose patience quickly, but God!
We are all sinners, but God!
Since we "all sin and fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23, NLT), we must be ready to address the sin.
In other words, when we make mistakes and yell or throw a 'tude toward our children, we need to be ready to apologize and model how to ask for forgiveness.
Our kids learn to be polite, socially functioning adults through us. And we've all met people who never apologize. How obnoxious! I know I don't want that to be my kids!
So if we want our kids to learn to apologize, we need to show them how to do it.
I've mentioned King David a lot, but he is such a good example of a person who loved God whole-heartedly, but sinned majorly. I've written this before, but he committed adultery with a married woman and then had her husband killed to cover up the resulting pregnancy. Wrong on so many levels!
Psalm 51 is David's prayer of forgiveness and apology to God. It is a wonderful model of how we should seek forgiveness from God when we sin, and from our kids when we wrong them.
"Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion..." (Psalm 51:1-3a, NLT).
There are some key phrases in this prayer that we should adopt when we model an apology.
First, David recognized he did something wrong. "I recognize my rebellion..." he said. We have to admit we are in the wrong when offering an apology or it doesn't really mean anything, does it?
My children do this. They'll say, "Sorry! But you hit me first!" It doesn't really spell out remorse, right?
Second, you have to ask God, and your children, to forgive you. David said, "Wash me clean and purify me." God is the one to do the cleansing, but our children can do the forgiving, or "cancelling of a debt or mistake." When we are forgiven, the person releases the right to punish us. They let our mistake go.
Now, it's a whole lot easier to forgive when we know the person is truly sorry and repentant. We must express true remorse or sorrow over our mistake, and then make an effort to stop the mistake from happening again.
In Psalm 51:12-13, David addressed this. He said, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you."
The key to not sinning is to obey God. And if King David needed to pray for God to help him obey, I'm pretty sure I need to pray that too.
And that last sentence? Verse 13? It kind of cracks me up. David said he will teach God's ways to rebels. Well isn't that what us moms are doing? :-)
When we apologize to our children, we are modeling the humble heart that God seeks. We are demonstrating that it's okay to be wrong as long as we are willing to learn.
We can't do it on our own, but God...
Dear Father, Please forgive me when I mess up, especially when I sin against my children. Please give me the desire and the power to do what pleases you (Phil. 2:13). Help me to obey even when I'm tired or crabby. Give me wisdom as I model a humble heart for my children. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I have developed a new mom pep peeve.
It absolutely drives me nuts when my kids just yell, "Mom!" from whatever room they are in and expect me to come running. They don't even try to look for me. And if I don't respond quickly enough, they will yell again. And, of course, it's usually when I'm in the middle of doing something: laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.
Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you just have to lock yourself in the bathroom.
Moms are usually the ones who are with their children the most. This is especially true for stay-at-home-moms like me. And sometime, those little angels we gave birth to, can wear us down!
Honestly, when I get flustered and annoyed from many hours of hearing Pokemon stories and listening to my daughter's animal noises, my attitude starts to suffer. My nerves feel frayed like the end of a string that has been jabbed through a bead one too many times.
Sometimes Scripture and praise music can't find it's way to my heart and brain because I am too exhausted. The circuit between how I act and how I know I'm supposed to act breaks down.
Sometimes what you need is a time out yourself.
Getting time to yourself as a mom can also be challenging. Through the years I have found a few ways to achieve this without employing a baby sitter. But if you can get a babysitter, get one. Do not feel bad! Mom mental health is a priority!
MOPS! My mothers of preschoolers group provides a wonderful time for me to send my kids off to play and for me to talk with moms in the same season of life. Click here to find a MOPS group near you! https://www.mops.org/groupsearch/
Playdates! Invite a friend and her kids over. This might not sound relaxing, but in my experience, kids entertain each other. You and the mom can talk while the kids play. All you will have to do is referee the occasional spat.
Church! Go to church! Send your kids to the nursery or to Sunday School. Fill your tank while your kids learn about God. Win Win!
Do something that gives you joy Now! This is an idea I found in Alli Worthington's book Fierce Faith. Sometimes when you are grumpy, you just have to stop and do one thing you enjoy. Take a walk outside your house. Your kids will be fine for 2 minutes. Read a book for a little bit. Play a song on the piano (if you can). Work on a craft project (if you're crafty). Whatever you enjoy, just take a little time and do it!
Maintain a quiet time with God! Even if you can only spare 5-10 minutes, have a quiet time. I have found that on the days I make this a priority, I have so much more patience and kindness. It flows out of me so much easier. All the circuits in my brain stay better connected.
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" - Matt. 11:28-29, NLT
In order to receive rest, we have to do things Jesus' way. He says we need come to Him and let Him teach us. Doing life according to the Bible may seem like a list of rules, but that's a lie Satan uses to keep you from getting closer to God. Jesus said, "my yoke is easy because I am humble and gentle at heart." He wants to give us rest, and when we come to Him, we are refreshed.
Going to Jesus is the best time out.
Because I am a stay at home mom, I am with my kids a LOT. This was intentional. My husband and I decided that I would be home to raise them and teach them what we want them to know.
That really has been such a privilege. I get to monitor who my children encounter, what they eat, what they watch on TV, how much screen time they have, etc. I have a lot of control over them because they are with me so much.
Here is the downside: the kids pick up my bad habits right along with the good.
It makes sense, since I'm the one they see all the time. I like to say, being a mother is like holding up a mirror and seeing your character traits reflected back to you, the good ones and the bad ones.
So if we admit that a lot of our kids' personality traits come from us, then we can also admit that their bad traits might come from us too. You see where I'm going with this: they may have learned their bad attitude from us! Gasp!
And just like our kids are people-in-progress, we are too. God never stops working on us, making us more like Jesus. It's just sometimes, in the midst of this growth, we must look deep within ourselves and examine our own hearts.
In scripture King David gave a good example of self-examination. Since he was described as "a man after God's own heart," I think he's a pretty good one to study. And in case you're thinking, "well, he was probably pretty close to perfect," let me assure you that no, he definitely was not.
David was a wise and brave King of Israel and loved God whole-heartedly, but he committed adultery and murder, and was a detached father who did not discipline his unruly sons. But David was quick to come to God with his mistakes. When he sinned, he asked God this:
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
David came to God and asked Him to point out the offensive things in his heart. He did not want his sins to get in the way of his relationship with God. Like David, this is a prayer we need to pray regularly.
Now, I know this is not a fun prayer to pray. But like I wrote about last time, what is in our hearts is what eventually comes out. It is only fitting that we allow God to do a little clean up in our hearts, so we have room for the good stuff. We don't want our sin to interfere with our relationship with our children.
If God points out something that is offensive to Him, we can ask God to forgive us. I don't know what you may be dealing with. It could be simple, like you are clinging to negativity. Or maybe its more serious, like King David's. But whatever it is, sin is sin, and any sin keeps us from getting closer to God. King David was really good at confessing his sin too. Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer he wrote to ask God to forgive him after he had committed adultery.
"Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night" (Psalm 51:1-3, NLT).
The good news? Every time we pray this with a sincere, honest heart, God forgives us and removes the junk that was cluttering our hearts. Every time. Remember, this is a necessary step in the process to make us more like Jesus, and God longs to bring us more fully into who He intends us to be, into the moms He intends us to be.
Prayer: Dear Father, please search my heart for any "junk" that keeps me from becoming more like Jesus. Forgive me for my sins, and fill my heart with your goodness, love, joy, and patience. Please help these traits to flow from my heart to my children. In Jesus' name, Amen.
It is not a new concept: what goes in is what comes out.
Let's think of it in terms of dogs. There is often debate about certain breeds of dogs and whether or not they are "safe." Pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc., are often on this "naughty" list of dogs. And it's true: sometimes these dogs are absolutely vicious. With the proper training, they can be killers.
But let's say that you train your pit bull to be gentle. You discipline it to not act on it's primal instincts. You raise it to be loving and kind, and it is. You create an environment that encourages gentleness instead of viciousness.
In other words, what you put into the dog is what you get out.
Humans are not so different. Our environment determines a lot about who we are and who we become. I'm sure we've all studied the whole nature vs. nurture idea. And no matter what side of the debate you fall on, no one can deny the power of environment.
Even as adults, our environment has power over our behaviors and attitudes. We may be "all grown up" as moms, but the daily things that fill our heads and our hearts really do shape our attitude, and therefore, the words we speak to our families.
Jesus addresses this idea in Matthew 12. Instead of referencing dogs, He uses fruit trees to get His point across. "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad...For whatever is in your heart determines what you say" (Matt. 12:33-34, NLT).
I'd like to add on to this a bit. I also think that whatever is in your heart also determines how you say what you say.
The Greek word for "heart" here in this verse (kardias) means your thoughts or feelings. In other words, it's referring to the true part of you, your soul, the things that make you you.
Makes sense right? For an apple tree cannot produce oranges because deep down, it's an apple tree.
So let's think of this in human terms, not in trees or dogs. If what is in our soul is rotten, what will come out? I'll tell you what comes out of me: a bad attitude and harsh words.
So on my own, if I did nothing to tend my heart, everything that came out of my mouth would be no good. I could try my best, and sometimes my words might be kind, but I would keep reverting back to my rotten ways.
But, if I feed my soul the good stuff, I will speak out good stuff.
When I read the Bible and meditate on God's truths, when I listen to praise and worship music, when I watch shows that honor God's laws, when I surround myself with positive people that love God, I am filling my heart with good stuff.
All of these things are part of the environment that I can create. I can choose what I read, listen to, and watch. I can decide with whom I spend my time.
In short, I can control what goes into my heart. And that is exactly what we should be doing. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Prov. 4:23, NIV).
Friends, what we put into our hearts is what is going to come out of our mouths. It's a fact of life and nature. If we want to improve our attitudes and our words, we have to improve what we put into our hearts.
Prayer: Dear Father, Please help me make wise choices about what I put into my heart. Help me to choose what is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8). Please help me allow you to shape my environment, and in turn, my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash
Does this sound familiar?
"Young lady, do not talk to me that way! You must talk to your mother with respect!" (I wish you could hear me say that. Just imagine a massive 'tude and you'll get it.)
I often demand respect from my children, but do I always give it to them? Am I modelling the appropriate attitude, or am I letting my anger and annoyance come out in the way I speak to my kids?
These questions and self-examination have prompted this new blog series. Go with me as I delve into the reasons behind the attitude and what we can do to curb it once and for all.
In my life I have been fortunate to have some very wise women who speak truth to me, hold me accountable, and call me out when I need it. The two women that come to mind right off the bat are my mother and my grandmother.
I can recall a time my mother took my husband's side in one of our arguments. She graciously pointed out to me that I was not being fair to him. She was right, of course. She sweetly convicted me, helping my attitude change back to that of a wife who assumes the best of her husband.
And another time I was wallowing in self-pity. It was beyond just an afternoon's worth of self-pity. I had been living in it for months. My grandmother, whose gift is sending cards and notes just when people need them, sent me a letter. Instead of giving me a stern talking to with her written words, she shared some of her own struggles and offered her own wisdom on how she overcame them. Basically, she helped me see my reality with gratitude, and that shifted me out of my attitude of self-pity. I still have that note, tucked into my Bible.
My mother and her mother are my role models. They are examples of the kind of mother I want to be. I know they didn't exude wisdom all of the time they were parenting their small children, but they inspire me to be as wise as I can in the season that I'm in.
In order to adjust our attitude, we must first be wise with our words.
In Proverbs 31 we can read the description of a Godly woman and mother. And of course, a Godly woman is aware of the power of her words and the attitude with which she delivers them.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. -Proverbs 31:26, NLT
Sometimes, my life resembles the opposite of this description. My instructions to my children are often barked out, in a hurry. My words, instead of coming out with an air of wisdom, come out with the sting of annoyance.
How do we be more like this amazing Proverbs 31 woman? How do we make sure our words are wise and kind?
For me, I know I have to be aware of my triggers.
As I mentioned above, the instructions that I give when I'm in a hurry are the ones that come out with an attitude. I don't handle stress well, and being rushed is just one such situation. I must catch myself tensing up in those moments and try extra hard to keep myself calm. I will shoot a prayer to God to ask for peace and for patience.
A mom who issues wise words is aware of the power of her words. Anyone who survived middle school knows this. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This is so not true. Our words to our children have the power to build them up or tear them down. And unfortunately, it's our destructive words that have the tendency to be remembered.
If you're like me, I find I need more of this awareness. I need to slow down, think, and then choose my words. I cannot let the stress of busyness be my excuse.
My children deserve better than that.
Prayer: Dear Father, Please help me to be aware of my words and the attitude with which I deliver them. Help me to "build my kids up in the Lord" (Romans 15:2, NLT). Give me your peace and your patience in those moments when my stress builds. Help me be the wise woman my children deserve. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
For previous posts, click here.