Did I Really Just Say That? Facing Bad Mommy Days
- Lysa TerKeurst Author, <i>The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained</i>
- 2007 1 Jan
The heart itself is only a small vessel,
yet dragons are there, and lions,
there are poisonous beasts, and all the treasures of evil,
there are rough and uneven roads,
there are precipes;
but there too is God and the angels,
life is there, and the Kingdom,
there too is light, and there the apostles
and heavenly cities, and treasures of grace.
All things lie within that little space.
~ Makarios the Great
It had been a great day. The house was tidy. The dinner was Crock-Potting away, filling the house with delicious smells. The kids had completed their schoolwork and were now happily playing outside. My husband called from out of town to let me know he was having a great time, and I bragged about how well everyone was doing here on the home front. Now I had a few minutes to steal away and read. I picked up my book, settled on the couch, and smiled.
Three sentences into the first page, my great day started going south. The happy little people playing in the yard came thundering into the house, having turned into grumpy, hot, messy creatures intent on wreaking havoc in my sanctuary. "Mom, my straw busted through the bottom of my drink," one cried as carried the dripping cup through the living room, through the kitchen, and parked in front of me on the den carpet. I jumped from the couch, grabbed the drink, and turned to find another creature standing behind me, her new church outfit covered mud. Then started the whining in the kitchen from one staring down at the Crock-Pot. "Why can’t we be like normal families and eat out at restaurants? We always eat at home."
With all my might I wanted to give a June Cleaver sweet answer that included the words "That’s all right, dear, and it would be swell to eat out sometime." But I couldn’t find her inside me. I gritted my teeth and said, "Sweetheart," (don’t you love how this word takes on a completely different meaning when spoken through gritted teeth?) "did it ever cross your mind to leave the dripping cup outside instead of carrying the sticky, orange, carpet-staining juice throughout the house?"
I then turned to mud girl. "Why are we wearing our nice clothes to play outside?" I shook my head in disbelief while thinking, We have drawers full of play clothes that have seen better days. But to play in the mud, of course only church clothes will do.
And to the Crock-Pot complainer who couldn’t have picked a worse time, I wanted to go into a long diatribe about what it took to go to the store, buy the food, bring it home, unload it, and prepare it. But I was up to my elbows in mud and orange juice, so I fired off a quick answer about the expense of going out to eat and how he should be more grateful. I gave up on the book reading and with a frustrated huff finished cleaning and called everyone to an early dinner.
That didn’t go as I would have liked either, and by the end of the meal I’d had enough. I stood up at the end of the table, cleared my throat in a very dramatic fashion, and announced it was time for everyone to go to bed. "But it’s still light outside," they protested. I had no idea what time the clock said, and frankly I didn’t care. Bedtime was going to rescue me, and I was a woman on a mission. To add even more drama to my announcement, I concluded by saying that after they got ready for bed they should go sit on their beds and moan…for the Bible says that the Holy Spirit will lift up prayers on our behalf if all we can do is moan. "So the Holy Spirit will be tucking you into bed tonight. I am done!"
I turned, grabbed the book I never got to read, and marched off to my bedroom. Mommy was putting herself in a time-out.
I plopped down on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Did I just tell my kids that the Holy Spirit would be tucking them into bed? What kind of mother does that? A tired, exhausted, empty one, I answered myself. One who had not turned her emotions over to the Lord today. One who had not taken time before rushing into her day to ask the Lord to be her portion and to give her His perspective throughout the day. One who hadn’t taken time to pray.
I pushed the book I’d been waiting to read all afternoon aside and reached for my Bible.
Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him" (Lamentations 3:22-24, emphasis added).
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26, emphasis added).
Even Jesus, the Savior of the world, had to take time each day to ask for His portion. When He taught us to pray in Matthew 6, He taught us to ask for our portion. Matthew 6:11 says, "Give us today our daily bread."
Do you remember when the children of Israel were wandering in the desert waiting to be delivered to the Promise Land? God rained down manna, small flakes of food from heaven, just enough for each day. He didn’t allow them to gather storehouses full of manna because He wanted to be their daily portion. He wanted them to come to Him each day and recognize their need for Him. He delighted in them asking, and He delighted in providing for them every time they asked. That’s how they grew from seeing God as a religious being to having a real relationship with Him.
That’s how we grow as well. The reality is that we will all have days where our attitude is not what it should be. We all fall short. Now, maybe you’ve never fallen as short as me, the woman who relied on the Holy Spirit to tuck her kids into bed! But there are areas in which you will have to rely on God and His provision.
As moms it is so easy to let our emotions run wild and operate based on how we feel. If we feel happy, we can be patient. But if our stress level rises, it is easy to let our patience slip and snap at those we love most. If we feel organized, we can be stable. But if things start getting misplaced and disheveled, it is easy to feel angry and fly off the handle. This roller coaster of emotions is hard on mom and family.
I’ve found the only stabilizing force when I feel my emotions running away is the Lord. Praying these "portion" Scriptures and asking God to be my portion is a daily discipline. I can’t just will myself to be in a good mood and act godly; I have to rely on God’s strength, power, control, and provision.
Spend some time today asking yourself if you are in control of your emotions or letting your emotions control you. Whatever your shortcoming, God is waiting for you to ask for His portion every day and He will provide. When we allow Him to reign in us, His portion will rain on us.
Refresh My Soul
Read Psalm 4.
This is a psalm of hope. David writes of God’s protection, peace, and provision. He knows that God will keep him safe and grant him what he needs. His trust is in God.
I especially like verse 4, when David talks about sitting on our beds and being silent. How I wish I could have read that verse before I said what I said! My kids have for sure heard me say some things when I should have kept silent, as this verse recommends. Are there times in your life when you wish you had stayed silent? Are there things you regret saying to your kids or your husband?
Our words are powerful. Indeed, the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. How we use that muscle makes all the difference. James 3:5 says, "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark."
Read Psalm 34:13; 39:1; Proverbs 10:19; 21:23.
How can we, as moms, watch our words and train our tongues?
Our words can be used to build up or tear down. We can speak words of encouragement or we can speak words of destruction. We can think before we speak or we can react without thinking about the effect of our words. These are choices we make every time we open our mouths. Sitting on my bed and being silent is sounding better and better!
Here are some good and bad ways we use our words:
- Praising—Psalm 71:24
- Praying—Psalm 86:6
- Singing—Psalm 119:172
- Lying—Proverbs 6:16-19
- Flattering—Proverbs 28:23
- Teaching—Proverbs 31:26
- Worshipping—Philippians 2:11
- Arguing—2 Timothy 2:23
"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me," the old saying goes. That could not be further from the truth. Words do hurt. Our words have so much power. Proverbs 25:15 says, "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone."
Have you given much thought to the power of your words? Spend some time writing about times when you have chosen your words carefully and times when you have not. Examine the effects of your choices.
"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!" (Proverbs 15:23).
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).
We must choose our words carefully. We can’t just say whatever we think and blurt things out haphazardly. What we say with our tongues reaches far beyond the moment. The words we use will often stay with someone forever. We cannot take back our words once we say them. All we can do is pray for God to fill in our gaps, forgive us when we mess up, and be our portion each day so that we do not reach the end of ourselves.
Excerpted from The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained (Harvest House Publishers) by Lysa Terkeurst. © 2006 by Lysa Terkeurst. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Lysa Terkeurst is a wife, mother of five, and the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has appeared on many national broadcast programs, including Focus on the Family. She is the author of a number of books, including What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, and the coathor of A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life.