I hear it everywhere I go. In fact, it is the subject of the majority of email questions I receive. Moms feel frustrated and defeated. They are also weighed down with grief and guilt at their own reactive behavior.
First of all, let me say that I get it. I am a mom to 15 creative, energetic, oftentimes cunning, children. Not one of them was born a saint or an angel. I’m not going to pretend it has all been rainbows and roses. There were, and are, multiple opportunities for me to feel as though I am in a war, with me against them.
But I don’t live there. In fact, there is a lot of joy in my life. Certainly I face struggles, but they are small compared to all of the happiness I have enjoyed over the years.
It all boils down to outlook and attitude.
I smile and laugh a lot, and I have a great time with my kids (especially the teens) because…
1. I am not a citizen of this world.
You cannot believe how much pressure this relieves! If I were a citizen of planet earth, I would have to be worried about global warming, and the depletion of the rain forests, and what everyone was thinking of me, and if I had all my ducks in a row.
But my focus is not on this earth, it is on my heavenly citizenship. I am a daughter of the King, a princess of His Majesty on High. He created the earth, knows the end from the beginning, has already anticipated the immense population that can live comfortably together.
I am responsible and considerate of others because of the law of love that Jesus gave us, but beyond that I haven’t a care. I also believe that, as long as I am trusting Him as a mom, the results are out of my hands as well. This is because I know an extremely important secret:
My children are ultimately responsible for themselves and their decisions.
(See Ezekiel chapter 18.)
You see, my husband and I have ten children over the age of 18. It used to be paramount that they live right because it was a reflection on us and, goodness, what will people think? But we are past that now. We love all of them, miss some of them, but we have learned that our lives aren’t dependent on their performance. The only Person we have to impress is our Heavenly Father, and we already know we aren’t that impressive to Him anyway, so we continue to follow Him each day and lean on His grace for the rest.
God is the best parent in all eternity, but even He doesn’t have children who make all the right choices. And He is such a Gentleman; He stands at the door and knocks and leaves the decision up to us.
So I present the truth, try and live it out to the best of my ability, and I cover all of them with earnest, consistent prayers of faith, but beyond that I have no worries. This is of paramount importance because:
FEAR IS WHAT MAKES US FRUSTRATED AND ANGRY.
When we are afraid we won’t get enough sleep, or food, or “me time,” we get upset. When the bills are due and the children break a toy or a shoe or a plate, we put everything together in one big wad and throw a fit. When we are afraid of how our children will turn out (and may not fulfill our expectations), we throw an adult tantrum.
On the flip side, when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we have assurance that God is working ALL THINGS together for our good (Romans 8:28) and we have peace.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
2. I have control over the way I feel.
My natural tendency is not my boss. I may feel rotten, I may feel aggravated, but these feelings are not my masters. When I gave my life to Christ He made me new.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
All I have to do is bring my natural mind into agreement with the mind of Christ that is within me.
I take charge of my feelings by taking charge of my thought life. I do this by:
- Renewing my mind with the Word of God
I read the Bible every chance I get. This is not to show how holy I am, but because I am desperate and need a change in my mind constantly.
- Listening to worshipful music and good teaching
This is the digital age, so I take full advantage of it! No, I don’t waste my time with all the cutesy videos of cats flipping out or dogs dancing and barking Jingle Bells. I have playlists of the best music and Bible teaching videos I can find and I play them while I am cleaning the house or riding around in the car.
- Following Philippians 4:8
I am not perfect at this yet, but I have become better and better at checking my thoughts and not allowing my brain to dwell on things such as the negative behavior of others (including my own children), or money worries, or even the affairs of the world.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
- Taking charge of my thoughts the first few moments after I awaken in the morning
As soon as I am aware that I am awake, I start thanking Jesus. I thank Him for the new day, the warm bed I sleep in, the sweet man I wake up next to, and all the things God has planned for me each day, even if I don’t initially see them as pleasant.
- Watching the way I speak
I have really been working on this one in the past few years. It’s so easy, especially with those we are most comfortable with, to let down our hair and start whining about circumstances or people or the weather or the food or our bodies or our spouses or our children or the president or the government or the roads…
Instead, I try and find something positive to say, and I try and steer even our family conversations to the positive side of almost everything we discuss together.
When I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, I find that without making any extra effort I am automatically a powerhouse of joy and enthusiasm, and my children automatically catch on and become more happy, too.
Instead of the vicious circle of one bad attitude leading to another, it becomes a victorious circle with one good attitude sparking another!
3. I expect to overcome my circumstances because of God’s promises to me.
Not only has God blessed me with a heavenly reward, but He has given me everything I need to successfully navigate through this world below.
seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1
I also have this important promise:
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:14
We are not victims, we are victors. Certainly, we face just as many dire circumstances as everyone else (perhaps more) but they do not have to overcome us. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7-8:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
So, if we are experiencing:
- Morning sickness
- Enforced bedrest
- Recovery from a C-section
- Breastfeeding trouble
- Lots of little children
- A spouse (and/or relatives) whom we don’t see as supportive
- A house that is a total mess
- A tiny budget and a big family
…we don’t have to fear. Sure, the devil will try and put together a terrifying picture of our possible future, but he is a liar. Every time we are tempted to think “defeat” we can dismiss it and replace it with thoughts of V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!
I have been practicing this for years and it always works! Don’t look for the worst. In the midst of every trial, look for His grace. It just may be that what you perceive as destructive and painful is just the thing to uncover beauty and sweetness that you would never have been able to see before.
Think about Joseph. It was horribly painful to be so hated by his brothers that they wanted to kill him. It is beyond understanding what emotional upheaval he experienced as he was sold as a slave and then put in prison for something he did not do. And yet, after he could look and see God’s wonderful plan, he could say to those who caused him unspeakable pain:
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
We are not orphans. Right now we are trapped in time in a world doomed for destruction, but our Heavenly Father stands by, putting together the intricacies of natural circumstances so that smack-dab in the midst of every trial His lovingkindness prepares for us a kernel of blessing.
Expect God to bless you and He will. A lot of the reason we don’t have a close relationship with God is because of the way we perceive Him. If He says He is the God of all comfort, expect comfort. If He says He is the God that heals you, expect that healing. If He says He will never leave you nor forsake you, expect His presence in your every day life.
Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
Whether you are struggling through colic, or tantrums, or learning difficulties, or teen rebellion, never, never sound retreat. Go forward, believing that God has the answer, and you will find that it’s true.
I hope you are ready to face the problems you have with your children. Face them with prayer, face them with faith. Speak to that mountain of defiance, of disorder, or lack, and realize that God will either move it or help you over it.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.