It’s raining outside, the kids are crowding around you in a two foot space, fighting each other for your attention. Each one louder than their sibling beside them; the noise is deafening, and frustration pulses inside you.
When the three year old asks you the same question for the fifteenth time in as many minutes, your patience snaps and angry word vomit pours out of your mouth.
Well, Momma, I’m proof you’re not alone.
I’ve struggled my entire life with patience, and it got worse as I got older.
Having Four Children, Three of Them Under Six, Hasn’t Magically Morphed Me Into Mary Poppins Either.
If anything, motherhood seems to have pushed me even further into territory more fitting of Batman than a loving Christian mother.
There are many (many!) days when I temporarily lose sight of who I am; forgetting I’m a mother in her late 30s, and not a drill sergeant (or some dark hero).
Instead of lovingly listening to each of my children as they inform me, once again, of the horrible atrosities their siblings were part of–generally looking at them while they were eating, or in some cases NOT looking at them– I find my patience disappear like a bird flying south for the winter.
Our children need love, guidance, and correction.
As parents we know this.
We also know they’re supposed to receive those things without running for the nearest fallout shelter.
The trick is figuring out how to continually show how much we love our children, even when we’re so perfectly imperfect we end up on the razor-edge each time these little people don’t act like robots.
I Grew Up in a Home Full of Anger, Resentment, and Yelling. Not Patience.
While my parents weren’t drill sergeants, they also weren’t compassionate. Discipline often came loudly and with words of condemnation.
My children deserve better than that, and so do yours.
The question we need to ask ourselves is:
How Can We Love Our Children Better?
Since we’re not likely going to become patient parents overnight, we need to give ourselves some grace.
Forgive yourself when you mess up.
We also need to give our children grace.
Did you get that?
Our children need grace too.
Just like we do.
Show Children Grace
I’ve been blessed with these children.
They’re mine, but only temporarily. I only have so many years with them before they leave to follow whatever path God has laid out for them.
Those moments when my son steals the peanut butter and hides in his room to eat it, should be handled in such a way that he knows he isn’t being sent to the Gulag; that he hasn’t damaged his relationship with his parents.
I should show grace, because God has shown me grace again, and again.
Sadly, knowing I should show grace, and actually showing grace are two vastly different things.
In the heat of the moment, when I’ve just discovered the peanut butter smeared all over the carpet, as well as his face, it is often a very worldly response that comes out instead of the words of love and compassion.
God Shows Me Compassion…Again
Mom guilt is a real thing, y’all. It shouldn’t be, but it is. That isn’t God, that’s the world. He has already forgiven me for not handling that episode correctly. He has already moved on.
Whatever struggle you’re going through with your children, God’s been there. When you act like the world and not like Christ, God forgives you.
It’s time that we learn to forgive ourselves and move on.
If you didn’t show your child grace, apologize. Show them you’re human and flawed; that you make mistakes and bad choices too.
Then move on.
Patience is hard won, but grace can shorten the battle.
Since the day I got down on my knees and asked Jesus to guide me through this life, to save me from the person I’d become, and to fill me with his Holy and loving Spirit, I’ve seen my life change before my eyes. Some days are easier than others, but each day brings me closer to His presence.
It doesn’t end there, though. I’ve seen His work in others in my family as well. I’ve seen it in the way my daughter is growing; always thinking of others who might not have the things she does. She always searches for ways to be of help, either to me, her brother, or a little kid at the park who seems lonely.
God isn’t just working in her life. He’s working in the heart of my husband as well. In the beginning he went to church, because it was what I wanted to do, and he wanted to be there for me. He didn’t care which church we went to, and would have preferred if I’d chosen a Catholic church. I didn’t, and I don’t ever regret that decision.
He has become a different person. He no longer attends church just because I want to. In fact on those days when I’ve become too overwhelmed by people and desperately want to stay home and spend solitary time with the LORD, he’ll motivate me to get dressed and go (sometimes even he can’t get me to go for fellowship, because sometimes I just need the silence and the personal time with my Bible and the LORD).
Recently, I feel God placed in his heart something I never could have on my own. My husband felt called to volunteer, and he looked into opportunities and found the one that he felt in his heart the LORD was leading him to. On Monday night he spent time at a men’s home helping with dinner, and spending time getting to know the men living there. He came home tired but filled with a new light. I look forward to the changes the LORD brings to my family and myself.