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Two of the spark plugs were running in the house. One child was playing harmonica at full volume. All four were shouting gleefully into walkie talkies that were adding annoying white-noise static to the din. And I had a headache the size of Texas (not related to the chaotic noise but definitely exacerbated by it).
"Guys!!" I shouted, trying to make myself heard over the clamor. "CUT! IT! OUT!!!!" I roared.
Mama Bear had had enough, thank you very much.
It was only after my explosion that I learned that my neighbor, who had given the kids their walkie talkies, had her own set and was on the frequency chatting away with them. When I'd blown my top like an explosive volcano, she'd probably heard every angry word.
This would be the neighbor that I've spent the last couple of years building a relationship with, who knows I'm a Christian, and with whom I've had the incredible privilege of sharing the Gospel.
But when I exploded at the kids because of the rowdy noise, I wasn't being very loving or Godly. I wasn't being anything but selfish. I'd completely lost my cool. And I felt like a pretty rotten mom.
I'm pretty sure I disqualified myself from motherhood right then and there.
I'm also confident that I'm not the only mom who has felt this way.
Living in a fallen world, it's incredibly easy to give into our frustrations and sins. Exploding at rowdy kids is a lot easier than taking the better road of keeping cool.
I have yet to meet a mother who feels she was blessed with the virtue of patience. I don't know any parent who naturally tends toward calm instead of frustration. It's not that we don't fiercely love our little ones. It's not that we dislike parenting. It's just that we're tired, worn out, and at the end of our rope. And when we hit the tipping point, we often lose our patience.
As my faith grows and as my parenting improves, though, I'm learning how to better handle those moments when I feel as though I've disqualified myself from mothering. So, mama who feels like she's disqualified herself, here are some things to remember that I have to remind myself of often:
God is forgiving.
He IS forgiveness. There will be times when we feel like we can't forgive ourselves (I personally believe that all people feel this way at times, not just moms). It's hard to forgive ourselves when we can't believe we lost our patience again.
And yet, because God has forgiven us, we can forgive ourselves, seek His forgiveness, and try again with the help of the Holy Spirit to follow Him in righteousness.
God is gracious.
We usually think of grace as a means of letting ourselves off the hook for something we didn't accomplish. Missed Bible study? It's okay, there's grace for that. Didn't get the house cleaned today? That's fine, there's grace to cover that.
But as my friend Arabah Joy points out in her fabulous resource Grace Goals, grace is also the means for doing things. Grace is what enables us to move forward from our sin and to choose righteousness instead of anger the next time our kids frustrate us. Grace gives us the opportunity to do what's right.
Hebrews 4:15-16 explains it all: "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (NKJV, emphasis added).
God is perfect.
This is an extremely important point to remember when we're stuck in our sin and shortcomings. We will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but God is always perfect. And He is rounding out our failures, protecting our little ones from our imperfections. This is NOT a license to give into the temptation to get angry (see Romans 6:1-2), but it is a comfort to know that our sin doesn't render God imperfect.
Dear mama who feels like she's disqualified herself, you are not alone. Every single mama has been where you are. But praise the Lord, He doesn't leave us in our sin. He rescued us when He sent His own Son to die on the cross in our stead. He is gracious and perfect, and He is equipping us with all the grace we need to grow in our parenting. His mercies truly are new every morning, and one day, we will see those mercies perfectly in Heaven when we will be forever free of the temptation to lose our patience.
Until then, let's persevere in grace.