Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Pushed Jesus

I have had it placed on my heart for quite some time that I need to deal with the part of me that allows my tongue to be destructive in the lives of my kids (and dh too). You can see that one of my resolutions this year is to "speak in a calm tone at all times." Yes, this surely brings a chuckle from some or even a pang of understanding. As SAH moms, we are constantly barraged by noise, various bodily fluids, chaos, stress, time constraints, and the will to disobey (displayed uniquely in each child). I grew up making noise and surely making my mother crazy. But I don't recall either parent yelling at us.

So where my tendency to raise my voice comes from is unknown and also unimportant, as I am responsible for my own actions now. And I am not just speaking about yelling when a child doesn't obey the first time. I also speak of the times that I 'bark' at the kids to command control rather than using a serious but loving tone which commands respect and obedience. How many places does God's word speak of the ability of the tongue to tear down and destroy? I have decided that I don't want my voice to break my children down just so that I can be in control! I don't want them to fear me - I want them to fear the Lord. I want to learn how to use a gentle answer to turn away wrath. I want my words to be a balm on their hearts.

Imagine my conviction when I turned to Proverbs this morning only to have this verse (14:1) jump into my heart:
"The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands."

Now, the Lord has not made me perfect b4 giving me these precious children. But He wants me to grow and become more like Him daily. His purpose for me is that I would build up the house which He has given me! Some of you may not struggle in this area, but for me this requires gallons and gallons of prayer. I have a daughter who is only almost 5 who challenges us daily with her yelling, controlling bossiness and a 2-year old who is quick on her heals. The burden for me is that they are only reflecting the behavior that they see in their mother! But I want them to mirror Jesus and not my sin.

When I keep Him in front of me, hand Him control, and act humbly toward my children - these are the ways He makes me more like Him!

Because I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this area of sin (and it can be called no less than that), I want to post this article on the matter. It really spoke to my heart and I have printed it out as a daily reminder.

"The Shocking Truth — I Pushed Jesus!" by Barbara Smith
Can we talk about "yelling?" Yelling is a problem in lots of Christian homes. (How's THAT for a generalization?) Well, it was in mine, anyway! I resorted to hollering to try to recapture what I thought was clearly out-of-control. Roaring, like a hungry lion, and greedy to have what God was withholding, I blustered, meaning to scare people into doing what *I* wanted them to do. So, I yelled; letting the ones entrusted to my care know that I "let loose" before I let God restrain my frustration. What has come out of my mouth when I yelled proved to any who was within range, that Christ was not ruling me. I am not proud of this. Yet if repeating what a mess I made, helps you to put aside verbal assaults in your home, then I am willing to tell you what not to do.
As Surely as if I Had Pushed Him . . . From the moment that anger flashes through my soul, exploding out of my mouth, I am shoving the Savior off HIS rightful throne, telling Him to "Take a back seat. I'm gonna deal with this!" (Read Matt 15:11) Whether it was discovering an undone chore or lessons, braving adolescent sassing, contending with inoperative appliances or coping with my own aching body, too many occasions became an excuse for letting anger flash out on my tongue. For years I lost battles to angry outbursts, until my husband intervened and got my attention. After one truly unfortunate exchange between my dear child and me, my husband made each of us separate and read Scripture:
"And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, {the blood} of Christ. (1 Pet 1:17-19)

This was almost seven years ago. Almost five years before this humbling experience, I heard a familiar chorus: "I love you, Lord and I lift my voice . . . Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear." Believe me, the Lord Jesus has gotten a royal ear-full from my mouth! And He has not treated me as my sins deserved. However, the Lord is not through with me yet, and He is not through with you, either. Here are some concrete principles you can put into practice to lower the volume in your home.

Overcoming Outbursts
1. "Venting" your emotions is the first step to ruin! (Prov. 13:3) By guarding your mouth, you preserve life — yours and theirs. Remembering my child's little face, startled, frightened and tear-streaked, and seeing the stunned looked in my husband's kind eyes, are self-inflicted thorns that I must trust God to use for HIS glory. I failed here so often — and had to learn so many BITTER lessons because I yelled. Stuff a sock in your mouth, if you have to, before you yell at the children or the husband God gave you! Yelling becomes a deadly pattern of emotional responses that the enemy will use against us, perhaps even deafening our little one's hearts to hear the Savior for an unnecessary season. (Prov. 18:7) It isn't that God cannot or will not overcome the enemy. However, by indulging our tempers by yelling, we give valuable ground to the enemy.

2. God has an opinion on your predicament. God knew the dimension of the problem of angry outbursts, for we can see a bit of HIS heart, when we search for the words "mouth" or "tongue." He formed the mouth so that we might be like Him, and speak. (Exod. 4:11) He warned us to be on our guard — lest the mention of false gods is heard from our mouth. (Exod. 23:13) When we yell, we are not proclaiming God's praise, but heralding our capitulation to the idols of our souls. When we holler we make a sad choice, not to restrain our souls. We speak, therefore, in the anguishing, complaining bitterness. (Job 7:11)

3. Choose whom you will serve: God or self. On any given day — facing anything from a sticky kitchen floor, soggy bath towels, a dented fender or a deficit bank balance, we always have a choice: we can strengthen those we love with our mouths. With the solace of our lips, we can lessen their pain. (Job 16:5) We can speak with wisdom or understanding. (Ps 49:3) When things go wrong in my home (that is when "I" am not getting "my" way) I *could* let the overflow of my words be filled with praise. Praise that God has allowed the rough patches? Exactly! When appliances break, or when the lessons go slowly; when the money dries up and the health fails; or if the kids get cheeky — choose to praise God. Believe that He will use my disappointments and griefs for His glory, *all day long.* (Ps 71:8) The psalmist made a choice. That was to tell of God's righteousness — and His salvation. Surely *that* choice would be a more delightful recitation to my family's ears than an angry spewing of troubles. (Ps 71:15) Yet, I have ignored the comfort of my children and my husband and even my elderly mom, I am sorry to report. Why? Because MY comfort zone was breached with the common little consequences of the Fall. (As in Eden) On too many occasions, I chose not to utter TRUTH, but to entertain wickedness with my lips -- loudly. (Prov. 8:7-8) I blew through some major teaching occasions because I chose to yell. How many more problems did I engender because I would not lower the volume to discuss critical problems? (Prov. 21:23)

4. Remember, quashing rebellion is not *your* problem! Am I saying we should become milk-toast mushy and spineless in the face of provocation? NO! When the kids are resisting instruction, it is a spiritual problem — and yelling is not the solution. Our lungs are not big enough to holler away rebellion! Kids' hearts can harden when their parents keep the volume of their frustration loud, and parents can miss hearing God's quiet voice. If we follow our Father's example, growing quiet in the face of opposition, often we can head off disaster by asking God to show US what to do. So, if angry outbursts of frustrations are wrong from the kids, they are wrong from the adults — period.

5. Keep your eyes open -- and ask for help! It is not the frustration we have to avoid but we must allow God to transform our responses to it. We will not do this in our own strength; none of us can restrain this amazing little muscle that God gave so that we might be in HIS image! My husband's prayers truly helped — so, please, ask for help.
Proverbs — the book of WISDOM — says the godly woman is one upon whose lips is the teaching of kindness; for "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Prov. 15:1-2)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address. http://chfweb.net/smith/yelling.html


Monica said...

Thanks for coming by to introduce yourself. We obviously have much in common and the little I've read of your blog I know that I'll be back for more:) I really liked what you quoted here about yelling. Yelling in our house is reserved for emergencies only, as is screaming. Usually about once a month I blow my top and raise my voice and the poor children are just about scared to death. Anger is the underlying issue certainly, but a lot of sin and hurt would be avoided if I would guard my mouth. Thanks for the post. It is both convicting and encouraging.

Sharon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Life With My 3 Boybarians said...

Such a good reminder! How I hope I will always take a step back before turning into the yelling mom. It requires a lot of self control for me, sometimes more than I have.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

This is a great reminder. I have struggled with this (and still do) I LOVED this post with suggestions and the verse you listed about not tearing your house down.

Never thought out it as pushing Jesus off His throne. What a great reminder. Wow.

I have been working with my 5 year old to "respond in love" as she often responds in yelling, whining, screaming, etc. It is a great reminder to me too as I find myself having to say that to her daily, "respond IN LOVE".