Confessions of a Mom Who is Easily Frazzled and Overly Critical...And the Jesus Whose Love Still Never Fails Me
With my taffy-head spinning, I cannot think straight. I cannot process clearly. By my own fault, I don't pause for a moment of patience and sanity. I don't choose to stop and breathe (although that would be very wise and mature of me, wouldn't it?) I could go in my bedroom (or pantry) and count to 10. But no, I just blow. Why take the high road? Why be mature? It's easier to just snap. It feels better to start nagging - pointing - stomping - slamming - being overly critical of things that absolutely do not matter.
And why? Why in the world does throwing an adult tantrum that belittles my children feel justified?? My own very un-scientific self-diagnosis is this: when my brain feels most frazzled and out of control, when I'm totally taffy-brain, my ugly pride takes over. I pridefully misuse my desire for control. Rather than controlling the situation in a healthy, kind and loving parental manner, I zoom out of control on a power-trip rant over my children: "Do this! Stop that! Don't just sit there! Why are you doing that? I said do this! Just let me do it myself!"
My foolish pride just oozes out all over the place. Disgusting. Appalling. Embarrassing.
And it hurts my kids. It hurts me to even write about it. It aches my heart to think about the confusion I've seen so many times in my daughters' eyes as their Mom nit-picks, nags, and becomes so critical of things that do not matter one bit. It's a fault of mine that I really hate and hesitate to admit, except the Bible implores us to confess our sins to one another: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed..." (James 5:16) So, here I am, confessing from one Mom to another: I am overly critical. And I am easily frazzled because I don't take time to breathe and think before I react...so my kids pay the price. I wanted to be healed of prideful over-criticizing.
Am I the only one? I kind of doubt it.
Friend, it's absolutely our job as parents to teach our kids right and wrong; to rebuke disobedience and train our kids in righteousness. Being too lenient in parenting is frowned upon in Scripture. (Ironically, being too lenient in discipline is also a struggle for me, and will be my next confession. So stay tuned for that one!)
But being overly critical is also wrong. Listen to this good word on parenting: "Fathers [Parents], don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master." (Ephesians 6:4, The Message)
Oh, God's Word is so good! That is exactly what happens when I'm overly critical...I exasperate my children. Other translations use "embitter," "over-correct," or "provoke them to anger." Yes, yes, and yes. All of these things happen when I nag my kids. But God tells me so gently, "Rebecca, stop that. Instead, hold her hand and lead her like Jesus leads." It's such beautiful instruction...I mean think about Jesus. He was only harsh in the face of total opposition...and even then, he remained perfectly righteous in the midst of anger.
But with those that loved him, he was exceedingly patient. He took time to breathe and think. He remained calm when most everyone around him was freaking out (hello, anxiety!). He chose his words carefully and gracefully. He pulled his disciples aside and spent time one on one. He encouraged. He taught. He inspired. He healed. He was intentional all the time. He loved perfectly, every single day. And although we give ourselves the lame excuse that "Well, I'm just human...I can't be like Jesus," the thing is, Scripture implores me to try. Try hard to be like Jesus. Otherwise, I will exasperate, embitter, and provoke my children. I have gone down that road long enough to know that it only leads to heartache...both for the Mama and the child.
My overly critical words, sighs, and glances make my kids feel like they are Iess than they really are. Less significant. Less valuable. Less awesome. Maybe even less loved. It hurts so much to type those words, yet it's true. My love is too shallow for my kids. My love runs short and disappoints. My love sometimes gets buried under piles of pride, out from which I need to dig myself and then ask (again) for forgiveness.
It brings tremendous joy and peace to my heart to know that on the days when my love is just not cutting it, when it's just not enough, I can point my kids to Jesus' love. Where my love is too shallow, his is deeper, higher, wider, and longer than my kids will ever be able to explore or imagine. His love will never run shallow. His love will never be buried under piles of pride. Where my love disappoints, his love never will. His love will never fail.
Jesus' love will never fail my kids, and it will never fail this easily frazzled, overly critical Mom.