Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A 5-Step Plan for Mamas on the Verge of Boiling Over

Strombolian eruption - Mount Etna Volcano
Photo Credit

This is my third consecutive week posting on anger. Why? Because I struggle with anger. And I venture to guess that some of you do, too, at times. 

I posted on Facebook recently about how rare it is to hear women share their struggles with anger. It's almost taboo to admit you have an anger problem. 

Here are two of the responses:
"...I struggle with it [anger], and struggled with it for a lot of my life. Its almost like if you voice it (that you have a struggle with anger, people approach you as if you are about to explode any second. It is a shame really, I think more women struggle than they want to admit...and we should come together to help one another."
"Maybe it is the whole needing to have people believe we women have that gentle and quiet spirit thing down or maybe it is just a need to look like a good, nice Christian?"

Anger is a real issue for {Christian} women.

Sin left alone will fester. Unless we confess our sins to God and are willing to share our struggles with Godly women who can pray for us and support us, then that sin will continue to grow until we are consumed by it.

In addition to daily prayer, I've devised a 5 step plan to help me in situations when I'm on the verge of succumbing to anger. {Note: This is my personal plan. It may or may not work for you in your situation, but it's what I'm attempting to help me. I suggest that if you struggle with anger you devise a plan that will help you according to your specific needs and situation.}


1.Take 5. 

"In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent."

Psalm 4:4
 Sometimes even Mommy needs a time-out. Send everyone to their rooms, put baby in the crib, and retreat for 5-10 minutes. Alone. Go to your bed, closet, bathroom, outside--wherever you can best think, relax, and calm down. If you're out and about, get everyone in the car and go home. The grocery store can wait but losing your cool in public could have devastating consequences.  


2. Pray.

"Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."

1 Timothy 2:8
Once I'm home and have distanced myself from the children, I pray. I have verses everywhere: on my lampshade, in my household notebook, on the bathroom mirror, even on the refrigerator. Wherever I have retreated to, I take a few minutes and meditate on the verse and pray, asking God to fill my heart with love and peace and for the Holy Spirit to speak through me to my children. It's amazing how much calmer I am after spending just a few minutes in prayer.


3. Take out the emotion. 

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1
When my kids are disrespectful, my blood boils, and I often act on impulse and emotion instead of in wisdom and love. If we're in public, concern with keeping up appearances takes precedence over the salvation of their souls. I'm more upset by their embarrassment of me than teaching them why we need to respect and love others. And if we're at home, repeated incidents of willful disobedience often lead me to say and do things that exasperate my children.

In recent weeks I've made a real effort to curb my emotions. To pretend that I'm the emotionless trooper who gave me a ticket earlier this year, despite three crying kids in the backseat--one with blue marker all.over.her.body. No remorse, no pity, not even a smile. It was "strictly business." I need to stop taking my kids' misbehavior personally and remember they're kids. I need to make discipline strictly business instead of a time to vent my anger and frustration at them. 


4. Love on 'em.

"[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

1 Corinthians 13:5

And once I've disciplined my children, I need to show them love, covering them with hugs and kisses and letting them know without a doubt that they are ferociously loved.  I don't do a good job at this. I usually discipline and move on, but our kids need to know that even though they make mistakes, they are still loved by me, their father, and their Father. They need to know that discipline is love and that even Mommy and Daddy have to be disciplined at times by our heavenly Father.


5. Pray some more. 

"...in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6-7
This would also be the perfect time to pray with them and ask God to help them with that specific sin they're struggling with. That's real love, folks, showing our children that our sins will be forgiven if we take them to the Father. Teaching children to pray for help is big and something we need to model for them. When I sin against my kids, especially when I lash out in anger, they need to see me seeking God's forgiveness and finding peace afterwards. They need to know that even though we are "big," we still struggle with sin, but when we ask God for forgiveness and help, He listens and acts.

Anger is a real issue for Moms. Instead of ignoring it, we need to seek help: from God, our husbands, & our Christian friends. These 5 steps are my way of working on anger with my own children, but maybe it can work for you, too. I'm not there yet; the journey is long and every day I am challenged again & again, but I'm working on it. If you are struggling with anger, too, please email me or leave a comment below. I would love to pray for you.

 For another great post to help you deal with anger, check out:
"10 Things to Try Before You Lose Your Temper With Your Child" by momstheword 

Previous posts on Anger:
"When We Exasperate Our Children, We Put Their Salvation at Risk"
"When Our Anger Isn't Under Control"
"Secret Sins: Because Sometimes We Need to Stop Hiding & Seek Help"

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  1. Keri- love these steps. I have a similar plan, and have days when I can follow them and the day is calmer and I feel contentment at the end of the day. But I'm still sorry to admit that I have many days when I just don't even bother trying my steps - confession of a trouble spot - knowing there is grace even for me is wonderful.

    I'm loving these posts!


    1. That's great, Marissa, that you actually have a plan. I haven't had any kind of plan except for 1. React, 2. Cry, 3. Ask forgiveness. That one was not working. You're right though. Grace is the key. Without grace, we have no hope of ever improving in areas of weakness.

      I'm glad you are enjoying these posts. Blessings to you.

  2. I am so glad I found this. I struggle with anger very much. Sometimes my tone is so terrible. Thanks Tricia

  3. Another great post, thanks for sharing! Lately I've been having trouble with my little guy. He just has a mind of his own and his clever tongue just puts me on edge. I need to keep remembering that he is just a child as well. It teaches me to be patient and love him harder. I look forward to reading about your progress. Praying for you! :)

    1. Thanks, Tiari. I must admit that today I really struggled with my two year old. There's just something so frustrating about a child who continually refuses to listen. I have to work on balancing my discipline with love because my instinct is to expect immediate every time when sometimes my child needs grace.

      I will keep you posted on my progress :)

      Blessings to you especially this Mothers Day!!

  4. Thank you for this post. I recently posted on my struggle with anger just late last month. My anger stems from selfishness and as I have four extremely strong willed children with two that are special needs it really has been a journey! God has been breaking me especially in the last month or two. I still have my periods of irritation and yelling but I am now more sensitive to my sin and even my children are realizing my utmost need to depend on Him. They are so forgiving and resilient and I realize that as God forgives me for my shortcomings, I need to forgive myself for my past failures.

    1. Cheryl, that's so great about your progress! I think recognizing and actually admitting that I had a problem was really the first step :) I kept telling myself that I was justified in my anger because of x, y or z. But nothing justifies the words and actions I've spoken and taken.

      Yes, we have to forgive ourselves. God forgives us so we must forgive ourselves. I'm so grateful for merciful children and Father!

      God bless you in your mothering journey.


  5. I understand your struggle. Whether it's anger or something else, we all have a persistent sin patter that we need to conquer. What helped me is to understand where my particular pattern indicates I have a lapse in faith. If I lie, for instance, why do I do it? Do I not believe that God is sufficient to defend me if I tell the truth in difficult circumstances? Or, if I lust, do I not believe that God loves me enough to give me what I need when I need it? In response to all my persistent sins (and I have more than one) I have pinpointed verses that address those particular assurances of faith and say them out loud every day. It's kind of like putting on my armor every day. If I don't say them when I don't need them, they won't be there when I do. Anyway, that's been working for me.

    1. That's a great idea, MrsP. I love the visual of putting on the whole armor of God, and equipping ourselves with the sword of truth is essential to fighting Satan. You're right. Whether we struggle with anger, envy, lust, or pride, we need to be prepared to fight against those sins we struggle with by committing scriptures to memory. I try to do this but really need to work on it more. Thanks for your suggestion and helpful advice. Blessings to you.