I think I’m not so scary, but maybe I am
I yelled at my kids tonight.
Oh I yelled.
They were supposed to be cleaning something, and I was hot while cooking dinner, and I was hungry, and I walked in the living room to see they weren’t cleaning and I just blew it.
I blew it because I blew up.
I looked at their little faces and I yelled and I told them to clean the bathroom up and down until it was shining.
And then one of them told on the other, and that made me mad. And I told them they’d better work harder than the other.
I went back to the kitchen, a sweaty mess, and continued to stir the spaghetti sauce. But my heart clinched because I hate yelling.
Yea, I know, sometimes we moms just yell. We lose it. It happens. And, I’m Italian. We’re loud. But here’s the thing, after I yelled my first thought was that I wasn’t so bad.
My second thought was me wondering if the person who used to yell at me growing up thought it wasn’t so bad.
It was. I was scared and I used to get sick to my stomach. Tense. Anxious. I hated it.
I hated being yelled at, and I vowed early on that I would not be like her; I vowed I wouldn’t be a yeller.
But here I am, yelling at my kids, thinking I’m not so scary when maybe I am. Maybe I am scary. Maybe they tense up and their tummies hurt and maybe they are afraid of me.
I set down my spoon and my kids came into the kitchen. I got down on my knees, pulled them near, and looked in their eyes. “I’m sorry I yelled at you all. I was mad you didn’t listen, and you need to listen, but I shouldn’t yell. I don’t like myself when I yell at you. Will you forgive me?”
They do, because kids forgive and are so gracious. They are grace to us so completely human, susceptible-to-sin mothers.
After they forgave me I asked them if I scared them. Two no’s, one yes (from the the littlest). We talk about it some more, and then we move on. My husband cracks a joke and we all laugh and all is well. We begin again.
In last night’s Core Lies Intensive, Kimberely said that motherhood often triggers our lies, the things we believe that have led us to make vows to protect ourselves and those we love, but that do more damage in the long run. She said that the bad part of the triggering is that is surprises and unnverves us. But the good part is that it brings light to our lies, and light breaks the dark allowing us to see and heal and trust our Father God.
I made a vow not to be like the person who yelled at me, but see vows give the illusion that we can stay in control.
When I break my vow, when I yell at my kids, it unnerves me because I see that I am just so human, so imperfect, so prone to sin. I can’t always control my temper. This isn’t an excuse to not change, it’s a reality that I am so in need of Jesus and His power in me.
Here’s the other thing: the gospel gives us permission to be radically honest and authentic.
Sometimes I yell at my kids. I don’t like to yell at them. I sin so often. But I am also so loved.
See into my life and my story and you see a real mess who is utterly dependent on a real God.
There is such a rhythm to life and parenting and we will mess up, but we can always, always move forward in humility and grace and forgiveness. And when we are locked up and find ourselves getting overly angry when the situation doesn’t call for it, we can get help; we can ask God to show us why we reacted the way we did.
As Kimberely so beautifully puts it, kids don’t need perfect parents, kids need whole parents, parents who are willing to invite the Holy Spirit into their weak places and ask, “I wonder why this is happening? Will you show me God, why, and what the truth is?” God wants to heal us so we can be whole and free. He wants us to know how much He loves us and wants us to see Him as Savior and Father.
One more thing about my yelling. I, by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, asked my kids to forgive me. I think there is a release in forgiveness, not only for myself, but for my children. They can release me in grace and not have to hold the imprint of my sin on their lives; I don’t have to live in their memory as a scary mom. I think forgiveness can heal wounds faster so there is less scar tissue in the long run.
I realize now that my wounds have taken longer to heal because forgiveness was never asked of me. But now that I’m older and I see more clearly and I’m whole, I can forgive without the asking of it. I’m free.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
You don’t have to keep beating yourself up. There is healing and freedom available to you, and you don’t have to whiteknuckle your way there.
You are loved and you are invited into a place of freedom, you just have to be willing to go there.