“I told you! Clean this room. I’m going to have an aneurism for heaven’s sake!”
God, they never listen. I don’t mean to yell all the time, but they won’t change. No matter the reward system—no matter the work of instilling pride in them for what they own and how to take care of it—they ignore me.
The real battle? After confrontation with my children, I suffered. I desired to be a kind, forgiving, gentle mother, but I yelled. I massaged my pounding temples and settled on the couch and into condemnation. I couldn’t seem to change. I needed my mouth washed out with soap.
Go to the bathroom mirror.
What? Is that You, Father?
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror overcome with self-loathing.
Now, look at yourself and tell me all the things concerning your children you do right, Ann.
Well-I-uh, love them. I really do, Father! I want them to know You more than anything! I tell them about You. How much You love them and me. My desire is to teach my children what is right and good.
The reflection of Ann in the mirror didn’t change, but my focal point did.
You love me. Even when I never seem to do anything right. You love me. The flutter of self-disappointment in the pit of my stomach, stilled. My head lifted a notch. My vision, though blurry through repentant tears, cleared.
If I’d stayed on the couch, I’d have missed this moment where my Father lovingly exchanged my condemnation to His LIFE.
With God’s LIFE in me, I could move forward. With His LIFE in me, my confidence in parenting my children soared to new heights. The LIFE of God in me made everything fresh. I’d get a “do over.” Would I yell again? Certainly. Would I get a “do over” again? Every time.
Father, Your Word says Your love covers a multitude of sins. Cover me concerning my children. Erase the times I’ve yelled—will yell. May they not remember the bad times, Lord. Help me teach them that when I do fall down over and over, You are constant. You make all things new. When You look at me, because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, You see what I do right and not what I do wrong.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:7)
Jesus died for all the things I cannot seem to do. He cleansed it ALL. Every time I sin—past, present, future—He turns it around. Why should He? When we give our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, we no longer strive. Christ in us can do all things.
Condemnation? How it robs us!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
When we do anything wrong. The enemy of our souls wants to magnify the problem. When we change our focus to Jesus and what He has finished, we magnify the Father.
We cannot love or parent perfectly. Someone once told me once the opposite of frustration is grace. Our self-effort will never be enough. Grace takes self-effort out of the equation.
This is not an excuse for sin. We should desire the fruit of the Spirit which includes all things mothers need—patience, self-control, love… True change in us is from the inside out. It’s an outflow of our relationship with the Father and the work of His Holy Spirit in us.
So the key to our frustrating faults is where we allow our thoughts to settle. Do we allow our minds to settle on the things we cannot do right? No matter how hard we try? Or, do we settle our minds on things above—on God?
God gave my husband a mind picture of a dirty car. The car, once made shiny and new, was totally covered in caked, dried mud. He got a bucket and filled it with strong, soapy water. He took a sponge, dipped it in the bucket, and began trying to wash the mud off the vehicle. What happened? The mud was so thick the soapy water only smeared it. Each time my husband dipped the sponge into the soapy water, the water only grew muddier. His results? He could not clean the car—it looked worse.
He changed his concentration and took his attention off the soap. He got a hose and tapped into the hydrant. The power of the water, flowing in a hard, steady stream began to wash away the muck and mire.
When we refocus on the person of the Holy Spirit—the water source—the River of LIFE, what happens? The power of the water flowing in and through us accomplishes what we never will by ourselves.
It’s so simple, it hurts. When you feel inadequate, set your mind on the Father and plug into his Holy Spirit. Our relationship in Him along with our devotion and gratitude releases Him to clean up our messiness.
I yelled. A lot. Now? I can rest knowing all six of my grown kids still love me. In spite of me. Beyond any shadow of doubt they know something else, too. They know I’ve had a dependent relationship on the never-failing Heavenly Father.
Listen for His Whispers