Before Pastor Chris ever meet me, he met my mother, over 10 years ago. She was a full of life kind of person who could make anyone laugh and with her children she was affectionate. That is the way that she showed us she loved us, but her tongue wasn't as kind. She was heavy with emotion and would lash out in frustration often. She was the type of person who would say one thing and do another.
I can't say that I read my bible daily or even that I have a rhyme and reason to when I do. I’m not sure where I'll even find myself in the bible when I do read. I really like to just open it and see where it takes me. I recently found myself in the book of James where I read about the power of the tongue, which really stood out to me.
James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
I was raised in a family that used very offensive language. It was spoken so casually that the abuse went completely unnoticed. On a daily base, I was called things like stupid, told I was a moron and an effing idiot. Cursing was so common in my house that it was even acceptable at a certain age for us 3 kids to use the same foul language.
Here I am, at 30 years old, finding myself biting my tongue. Fighting my emotions to lash out in the ways that my mother did. As I grew up, I realized that there were some obvious behaviors that my mother had carried out that I did not want to repeat:
I didn’t want to put partying over my children
I didn’t want drinking to distract me from my children
Most all I never wanted to put drugs or pills above my family
These were obvious scars and things that I had witnessed growing up. Things that really stood out to me. So, when I became a mother 6 years ago, these were very easy goals for me. As my children are growing parenting is become increasingly challenging. They aren't little babies anymore. It is no longer as simple as feeding, changing and cleaning them. The thought that I’m really molding a tiny human was setting in and frustration was coming out. It’s not as simple as saying, “no, don't do that” and that being the end of it. Here we are 6 years later and I’m still telling my son not to run in the house because we have neighbors below us. I try to explain to him that Jesus wants us to love our neighbors, but that doesn’t stop “The Flash.”
So, it must be me and all the craziness that I was raised with. I must be the only mother that is battling frustrations of how to handle my children. I had begun to beat myself mentally, talked down to myself and convince myself that I’m just an awful mother. One day in a life group at Addy's house, I was with a group of moms and they were sharing some insight about parenting. I began to feel relieved that I wasn’t the only mom who can’t get my children to listen! I think is was Rachel Richardson who said, “Love is Patient”. That was when our group leader Celimar, pulled up the verse and read it out loud and just like that something clicked! Yes! Love must be patient, love is kind and it just stuck with me. It stuck in my mind resonating with my soul. This is true.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 "Love is Patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs."
See, after school days are really challenging for me. While I'm trying to do homework with Daniel he’s very unengaged and says things like, “I don’t know or I forgot and can I watch TV?” All while sliding off his chair and crying that he doesn’t want to do this. At the same time, Lori is running around and taking all her clothes off again. Then she is coloring on the walls. While the dog is trying to push over the garbage can and I’m cooking dinner. My emotions tell me to scream and yell about everything that’s wrong with this picture and to be angry. Curse words are swirling in my mind with all the wrong words that I could say. If Alex happened to be off... Well then, the anger really sets in! Why is he playing basketball? Why isn’t he here helping me? The blaming sets in and it all becomes his fault! He doesn't care! He's so selfish... My mind just keeps feeding me more and more fire.
I’d love to say that I never let these things get to me, but that would be a lie. This isn’t a story about victory, but of daily battles, trial and error. I take a deep breath thinking of my son’s favorite worship song, Just Breath by Jonny Diaz. My spirit reminds me and feeds me the words, love is patient… I take another deep breath, thinking of the song and when he says, "when stress settles in take a second and fill your lungs." Love does not anger easily... I begin to think of how to handle the situation. First, this clearly isn’t my husband’s fault. He works so hard to provide for our family he deserves a night out to play basketball.
I take another deep breath, love keeps no record of wrongs. Yes, I could yell something like, “you never listen!” As he slides down his seat, fighting with me to do his homework, but I’m reminded that he’s just a child. What would my yelling accomplish? It has not gotten me anywhere in the past. Basically, it’s just dragging out the process to stop and argue with a child. That doesn’t even sound, right? What would that teach him? Just to yell and get angry when he’s frustrated. When I pause to organize my thoughts, what really makes me angry is the disrespect. So, I came up with 3 rules, no dirty looks, no talking back and no attitude. I tell Daniel that he has to stand up and shake his wiggles out and we all get a nice little laugh while we dance for a few seconds. Then I ask him what does he want to watch or do? I remind him that it’s his decision to focus on doing his homework as fast as he can so that he has time to do those things. Because he still has a responsibility to eat dinner, shower and be in bed by 8:30. If he doesn’t have enough time, I’m very sorry, but that wasn’t my decision.
When I say that the spirit feeds me the words, "love is patient," what do I mean? Some people call this their conscience, gut feeling or intuition, but to me it’s my spirit. The Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ left us when he was resurrected. This is how I know Jesus is alive and lives in me.
John 14:16-17 "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth."
Wow, right there, that is powerful to me. The spirit of truth. When I don’t follow my spirit, I’m left in conflict. Now what do I mean by conflict? Let's say I do lash out at my son and I get angry. Maybe even gift him a spank. He’s gets upset, I get emotional and then, before I know it, the guilt sets in. It becomes all my fault. I think must be a bad mother because I’m yelling at him, I hit him and I’m arguing with him. I start to think of all my imperfections, everything I lack and I overthink it in my mind.
When I see Ericka in group interacting with her children, she is just glowing with this patience. I admire her gentle and encouraging ways of interacting with them. Even when they are not listening. When I’m patient, or bite my tongue, I take a deep breath and think of how I can encourage my son and redirect him in a stronger way that is full of love. I realize that I need to bring excitement to learning so that he can enjoy it and be enthusiastic about it. Here and now is where I find joy. Seeing confidence in him during a time that was full of anger, but now can be filled with joy. Not because it’s easier. The Lord knows I struggle with this and I ask him for help constantly. It is because the spirit reminds me of the words that I have read before.
John 14:26-27 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
It is mind blowing to see how the bible will start to work for you. Just knowing that one little verse, “love is patient, love is kind” has caused me to blossom and made me want to learn more and read more. When I opened my bible and read it for myself, it settled deeper into my mind, that this one verse can help any individual be a better person in any area. Love does not boast, it is not quick to anger, it is not self-seeking and it does not envy. Just knowing these things made me want to learn more. Pulling out my bible whenever I’m bored instead of my phone has really helped to grow a passion for wanting to learn more of what the word says. Seeing how it has worked in my life has given me great peace.