My daughter is the joy of my life. Yes, I seriously mean that! But I must admit that the joy of my life can sometimes seem like the thorn in my flesh. Do you ever feel that way? Most, if not all of you, do; I’m sure of it!
As parents we may feel this way quite often when our children are constantly calling our name, complaining, arguing, or being disobedient in one way or another. It can be quite a challenge to keep our cool. In fact, sometimes when we are so tired and weary of these actions, we lose it. We collapse. We explode. We instantly snap into emotional frustration and anger. Where our tongues were once kept in check with methodical consciousness of what to say and what not to say, they now become like a loose canon shooting forth destructive words that slam into the ears of our precious children. It’s not until our lungs release, the smoke clears, and with a big sigh we return to reality. We realize we have just hurt our children. We have caused pain with the most powerful part of our bodies - the tongue.
Looking back on my childhood, I am reminded of how words spoken to me had a great effect on my life, both in encouraging and destructive ways. Most of the destructive words spoken to me were fueled by anger. Both of my parents displayed this kind of anger occasionally, but let me just say that I believe that my parents raised me to the best of their knowledge. I believe they never meant to hurt me with their actions. I believe that my parents loved me; they just did not always speak the way God intended for love to be spoken.
As a parent myself today, I, too, struggle just like my parents did. I, too, believe that I am raising my daughter to the best of my knowledge. I know that I do not ever want to hurt my daughter, but on occasion I do. And I believe that she knows that I love her even though there have been many times when I have not spoken love as God intended me to.
A few years ago, something happened to me that made a huge difference in my life concerning anger and words. There was a period of time where I was really getting angry with my daughter a lot. I would get angry about silly little things like what she decided to wear that day or if she made a mess in the kitchen and so forth. I started realizing the severity of my anger when the range of decibels in my voice was so high that I knew next door neighbors could hear me. The words I chose to speak in those moments were definitely destructive. I began saying really hurtful words like “Are you stupid?!”...“What’s wrong with you?!”..."Why can’t you be normal?!” As God began to open my eyes to this destructive pattern (which I myself had witnessed as a child), I asked Him to help me overcome it. I prayed every day about my anger. I searched the scriptures on anger but also on speech. What began to happen to me was a miracle that only God could do. Every time I would get angry and raise my voice at my daughter I would start to cough. The coughing was so bad that I had to stop lecturing her on her imperfections to get a sip of water. Time after time I coughed, unable to speak to my daughter. As the coughing increased, the destructive words began to decrease. I became more aware of the poison I was spewing out of my mouth. I began to see the terror and fear in her eyes as the tears streamed down her precious face. I had asked God to help me. I did not know how or in what way He would help me. I just believed. In that belief, I found my miracle - the cough. But the miracle did not stop there. God began to heal me from the inside out through the counsel of His Holy Spirit and His Word. Several Scriptures lighted my way …
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check."
"Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity ... All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice."
Ephesians 4: 26, 27, 31
"My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness."
A transformation took place like a butterfly from a cocoon. I began to speak to my daughter with a calm voice. I began to speak encouraging words, hoping that they would somehow over time replace the ones that tore her down. I began to realize the true power of the tongue when used as the Lord intended. Now this doesn’t mean that I never disciplined her when she needed it, but it does mean that I responded in a way that would be pleasing to the Lord. I chose to no longer be a loose canon blasting destructive words into my daughter’s ear but more of a butterfly in flight with beautiful phrases.
The miracle was the cough, but it’s not what God used to answer my prayer. What answered my prayer is my willingness to go to Him and say that I was weak and that I could not overcome this weakness on my own. That’s when God responds to us. That’s when miracles happen.
Keep it up and carry on,
God's been challenging me this summer. Actually, He and I have had a few wrestling matches. Through these spiritual wrestling matches, I've learned one thing ... He. Will. Always. Win. Why do I resist? Why do I think that my ideas and thoughts are better than what He has planned? When will I ever learn to trust Him? I'm human. It's in our human nature to want our way. To fight for the right to be heard, to be right, to do things the way we want them done. I'm not making excuses; I'm simply stating a fact.
This summer, Bronie and I have been spending time together doing Jennie Allen's Bible study “STUCK: the places we get stuck and the God who sets us free.” I have had this study on my shelf, collecting dust, for over a year now. Every now and then, I'd take it off the shelf and look at it, knowing that I needed to start it but never did. Finally after a conversation with BV, we decided that we would start. It looked like an innocent enough study, BUT after watching (with tears rolling down my cheeks) the intro video, my heart was pricked. Was it too late to back out? I thought, "Uh, BV, I can't do this! I'm tapping out. Good luck with the study." But I knew in my heart it was exactly what I needed. Over the last few weeks, I've had to analyze myself. (Do you know how uncomfortable that can be?) And through this process, God has called me to surrender. I have had to surrender so many areas of my life; my thoughts, my worry, my anxiety, my family, my everything to Him. That is hard for someone like me who has major trust issues. He even challenged my to surrender that, too! All of these things had become a security blanket for me. If I could worry about it, then in my mind, I had control over it.
Surrender is a daily process. Just like making wise choices about the things we eat, read and listen to, we have to choose daily to surrender to God. If we chase what the world deems right and good, we will lose ourselves. As Christians, when we let Jesus lead us, we find ourselves. We can't ride the fence on this. It's a choice we have to make daily - do we let Him lead us or do we do our own thing? When we surrender to God, we stop resisting Him. And it's in the moment of sweet surrender that we find freedom. FREEDOM!!! Freedom from this world's idea of the best life. Freedom to be who we are created to be. Freedom to trust God with everything. Freedom to live the life God wants us to have. Freedom to embrace life to the fullest.
I love the way The Message puts it in Matthew 16:24-26: "Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. 'Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?'" He is in the driver's seat. He knows where we are going, and He knows how we are going to get there.
Embrace life to the fullest,
Meet the Authors