Lots of little things snowballed into my temper flying. My children and I drove an hour to the next town to shop. One of my children revealed that he repeated a very private conversation to a local gossip. He didn’t realize what he had done. A somewhat heated discussion resulted. I felt guilty for making him feel bad.
A bad incident at the first store with an incompetent store clerk escalated matters. Then the climax came when a child behaved foolishly in a store, so foolishly, that I returned home instead of completing my shopping.
On the way home I lost it, in the car. You know “it” my sanity, my composure, my Proverbs 31 facade. I went on a verbal rampage. It was bad. It was an hour drive. Had I been at home I would have removed myself until I had calmed down. But I didn’t and I ranted. After the rant I got quiet and prayed for forgiveness. We drove the remaining 40 minutes in silence.
We arrived home to find the chickens escaped their pen and visiting the horses. Did I mention it was raining? Pouring rain. I corralled chickens in the rain. I needed the cooling off time.
Once in the house and dry, I talked to God some more. I asked what I always ask, “Why do I do this? I hate when I do this, so why do I do it? What is wrong with me?” Is it hormones? (I knew it wasn’t PMS, those days have been replaced with glorious menopause–which it like consistent PMS , with bonus hot flashes). Did I eat something wrong? Was it just plain flesh?
It was my flesh. At some point I gave the devil a foothold (a lesson I just taught my children about the previous day) and it snowballed. Ironic: I ended up demonstrating the sinful foolish behavior illustrated by my son that triggered my outburst.
I have a background of legalism, shame, and struggling to get God to love me. Normally a bad day like this would result in extreme condemnation, shame, cutting off communication with God because I believed He was angry with me. This time was different.
I was remorseful. My Father, God was forgiving (1 John 1:9) and I felt forgiven. I felt loved. I believe God’s sorrow is not over our sin as much as it lies in our refusal to approach Him when we sinned and failed. That’s how I feel about my children’s disobedience.
Satan used to get me after such an outburst. I would be so crippled with guilt and self-hatred it would quench Gods in the Holy Spirit. This time, by understanding the love of Christ, I had victory.
“So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, joy no one shall take from you.” (Jn. 16:16-22).
I had a separate talk with each of my sons.I apologized, and had a long talk with them about God, forgiveness and God’s love. Of how my behavior was just as wrong as theirs. It was an opportunity to explain how God loves compassionately and intensely. How He feels bad when we do bad, like I feel bad when they disobey. God loves us beyond worthiness and unworthiness.
It was an opportunity to explain to them God doesn’t not act in sin, like I did. God will correct in loving discipline not in a shout of anger. I asked them to pray for me.
I was able to have a productive talk with my sons because I had forgiven myself. The art of forgiveness and gentleness toward ourselves leads to being forgiving and gentle with others.