Monday, July 23, 2012

A big ball of anger with my name of it

This morning I was angry – again – at my children. Not I’m a little bit huffed. Red, eye-ball popping, feet-stomping cross. Because people were not moving my way at my pace and they knew they were irritating me and they were throwing it in my face. And we have to get to school on time! On time, people!!!

I never knew what an impatient, angry person I was until I had multiple children disobeying me at once. Oh, the anger in me that can come bubbling to the surface with the press of the right button! And the right button is usually ridiculous. It’s not darting across the road in front of a truck. It’s not skinning the cat, stealing the car keys or cutting all the power cords off our appliances. None of that actually important stuff. Nope. I’m mad about the big issues like how you sit properly on your chair when I’ve asked you to for the third time. And how you whined about losing you sock and I wasted my time helping you look for it and yet it was lying on top of your pillow the whole time if you’d just bothered to look (add hissing tone and gnashing of teeth).

When I look back on it, in the calm of the middle of the day with my cup of tea at my elbow, it all seems so very unimportant. At the time, I was convinced we had a full-scale rebellion on our hands and that I was being slowly crushed under the ingratitude and insolence of my offspring. Sometimes, a short 10 minutes can explode into the end of the world.

In those moments, I feel like This Is Real and all the other things I’ve ever thought about my life and family – that we are a moderately nice bunch and growing up okay – were just about fooling myself when the truth is that we are all doomed, doomed, doomed. I’m frustrated with their inability to obey perfectly and my inability to pretend I’m enjoying this mothering moment and I feel trapped by their disobedience and I resent, oh so strongly, having to start my day like this again. And I’m screaming inside my head, “How on earth can I pretend to have patience on the outside when I’m about to burst a boiler on the inside? And is anyone actually being fooled anyway?”

And then the lies start to crowd in…

Maybe you don’t love them. Other mothers don’t feel this mad at their kids. You’ve never really loved them, have you?

They hate you. They just put up with you as their mother but they obviously think you’re the enemy. As soon as they are old enough, they’ll leave and never speak to you again. They’ve never really liked you.

This is awful. I hate being at home mothering. This is going to drive me to despair. I want my life back. I want my work where I was loved and appreciated. I hate mopping and sweeping and listening to people complain.

This is never going to get better. And you are making a total mess of raising these kids. Something you are doing is really wrong. Other people know how to do this but you are hopeless at it.

None of this is true.  But the truth? The truth is so hard to hear when the noise of your own angry feelings in your head is loud.

The truth is I’m not built to mother perfectly. I’m built to rely on grace and then to extend it to those around me. I get angry that they don’t perform and I don’t perform to an arbitrary standard of “good” I’ve carved out for myself. Time to give that up. I fall far, far short. So do they. We trust not in ourselves, but in him who gave up himself for us. I’m trying to run the wrong race: the race of performance and self-achievement. Grace is a totally different path.

The truth is, in 20 minutes time, things will have changed. We’ll be in the car. We’ll be on the way to school. We’ll be talking about different things. And I will remember that I do really love them to bits. And if I give in to my seething anger in that moment and tell the kids what I really think of them, and bark orders and ungracefully slam cupboards doors and generally throw a mummy-tantrum, I’m going to regret it in 20 minutes. No one will learn any valuable life-lessons from my fit. No one will behave better tomorrow because I gave in today to the selfish desire to release my anger from its leash.

This morning, I pushed myself to think on these two words, “Trust me”. When I really want to let anger loose, I must remember that my heavenly Father has made it clear that he has other plans for me. And that as much I think being very, very righteously angry right now will make me feel better, it won’t. Instead, if I can trust that God is still in control and knows best, I can focus on being patient and kind and gracious. Yes, still disciplining and correcting those who need it, but without the steaming, bubbling anger that sometimes accompanies my reproofs. My obedience is a matter of trust – do I really think God knows what he’s doing or should I take my own shortcut through the woods? The woods never work out! Truly.

I am dismayed when I think of the stupidity of my anger and temper. But the solution is not going to come from me. I thank God that I’ve found a source of grace that covers all my failings. In the end, I want my patience to come not from me becoming a stronger and more competent person because the truth is that is always going to be a shallow pool from which to draw. I want instead to become a much more dependent person, drawing whenever I need it from the ocean that is God’s grace and patience. Then I’ll never run dry.


CardsAsGifts said...

AMEN! I know exactly how you feel and I only have one child. Reading this is such a "looking in the mirror" experience. And anyone that reads this and wonders what planet you live on, is not being honest on any front. Next time you think you are going insane, write me, I am sure I can tell you that we are both going insane at the same time :-)

Karen said...

Thanks Deb...if you don't mind, may I quote a bit of this over on my blog? Will acknowledge you, of course :)

Deb said...

Feel free to quote away!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - this was where I was heading tonight at dinner - but with poor husband trying to head off to work as another target of my completely misdirected anger! Time for me to do some repenting and start loving more graciously!! J

kdbkenyon said...

Amen to that sister! Problem is always putting grace into practise! Even though we are so undeserving of grace ourselves!

Ben McLaughlin said...

AWESOME post, Deb

Anonymous said...

I was going to say, "I totally relate!" but then I realised that I only have TWO other people in my house to not do things in the right way/time (read: my way/time), and that my ball of anger would be significantly larger if that number were doubled.

Thanks for this post (and to Ben, for linking to it!)- a great reminder to soak in grace more often (and, for me, earlier in the day) as a preventative measure rather than a cure.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for articulating these things so well!!

Deb said...

And thanks for your kind comment. :)