This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We are picking back up in the middle of a serious conversation we were having in the last episode. If you didn’t catch that, definitely go back and listen for a little bit of the background to today’s conversation. Primarily, we were talking about when mom gets angry or frustrated with her kids, and how sin impacts that and causes that and then how the gospel gives us hope. When we left off last week, we were getting ready to start talking through our identity in Christ and how in Christ, we are seen as righteous before God and that frees us from having to label ourselves as the yelling mom or the angry mom or whatever condemnation we put on ourselves. That isn’t who we are in Christ, and we are free to repent and to seek Christ and live in that freedom and walk forward and fight sin. Today’s episode is going to be talking about what does that look like? How do we practically fight that sin? Laura and I are happy we are talking through this because we need to know what these tools are. [laughter]
Laura: Em, I feel like you just dove into the deep end immediately. It’s so good but I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to catch up with Em.” I do have to totally agree though with what you said about our labels and our identity. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems like, when we begin to say, “I’m the angry mom,” we begin to live out what we believe we are. As Emily said, we don’t want to be chained to that condemnation but we want to remember that we are a child of the most high God. That we serve the King of the universe that gives us all power and all ability to concur that sin because of his death and resurrection. If you are feeling like you clicked on this episode because you’re an angry mom, you know what, that’s not who you are anymore. You are a redeemed child of the King. Sometimes I just need to hear that. Maybe you need to hear that but as Emily said, we are not perfect; we want to talk through these. We’re verbalizing, thought processing with you. We hope that this is a helpful show with a lot of hope for you.
Emily: In that hope again, talking about fighting sin, I was thinking about how there are things that need to be right in our hearts, that we’re always in process; we’re always trying to work it out. Maybe you’re on a diet, it is not smart to have chocolate chip cookies in your pantry or Cheetos where you can grab them. There are some common sense things that you don’t need that level of temptation in your life. What Laura and I are talking through today is, in terms of anger and frustration in motherhood, how can we get the cookies out of the pantry, so that you’re not standing there looking at them going, “Oh, man, I’m going to break down. I’m going to break down.” What things can we do to set up in our lives? Maybe we are still working through some of these, “I want to be in control. I want things to be according to my preferences. I want to be comfortable.” That’s probably going to be a lifelong thing that we are working through but in the meantime, how can we protect ourselves from sinning against our children in our anger and learning to have that self-control? That’s the context of today. To start out, we’re going to through some of the things that make Laura and I angry. [laughter]
Laura: We are preaching to ourselves you guys. We do want to say, there is a righteous anger, so kids shouldn’t disobey. Sin should bother us, but it’s how we react to that. Sometimes I think we get angry, often at least I get angry, not even from sin in our children, it is 100% my own sin. Some things to look at if you feel like, “I’m getting ticked off all the time.” Are there areas that you have not yet trained your children but you should? This is a huge one. For me, Emily, I go to Target all the time, I feel like I live there. It was funny because once my daughter got big enough to sit on her own in those huge massive red carts, the big double semi that you drive in there, once she got big enough, she didn’t want to sit still any more. My kids want to lay underneath the cart, legs spread, they’re knocking the pasta boxes off the aisle because I have this massive load. For a while, I let them because my two kids, they fed off each other and they we’re all over the place. I was like, “This is the best way I’m going to get my shopping done because otherwise, she’s going to cry when I strap her into the cart.” But it became frustrating. The kids were falling off. Their fingers were getting rolled over. They were not being well behaved honestly and it was causing issues. They would fight. They both wanted to pick off the same piece of gum on the bottom of the cart or something weird like that. I realized I would get so frustrated but I had let them do this. I had laxed on the rules. I had not trained them how to sit in the cart and make that a priority. Honestly, in the end, how could I expect anything different? I would usually let them but then when it got too crazy, I would be like, “You guys all have to sit in the cart,” and realizing that I needed to take time to train them and to talk to them through those things, to prep them before we got to Target and talk about it afterwards when they did a good job or when they didn’t do such a good job. That’s a huge one I think, when we don’t train our children what our expectations are. We don’t allow them to practice. We flow around and then suddenly, erupt in anger.
Emily: Yes, and this is one of the bigger ones for me because I like to think of myself as the laid-back parent. I’m like, “I’m so cool. I’m so chill. It’s cool, you can do that to your brother, I’m just being patient here.” But the reality is it’s not patient, it’s putting off what needs to be dealt with. I think as a mom, I’ve learned I either deal with this now when it’s a small thing and it’s pretty easy to train and correct, or it becomes a big thing, and I freak out, and that’s the only way to get it under control. That’s exactly what Laura is saying, is to be proactive. If we let our kids get out of control and we are not stepping in when it’s still small, it’s really easy to lose it. Related to that, these are a little bit overlapping, but are we getting angry due to a lack of preplanning on our part or organization or we’re being overcommitted? An example of that that Laura and I could both relate to is the other day, I’m trying to get out the door for an appointment and realistically in hindsight, I didn’t leave enough time. Whenever all of our kids go into sloth mode, it’s so frustrating, and I was angry because they wouldn’t get themselves into the car. But really, I should have left more time.
Laura: Another one is an expectation or a behavior that’s too advanced for your child. My simple easy example of this is getting mad when my kids knock over their bowl of yogurt and it goes everywhere. Honestly, it’s a two-year old behavior. My daughter didn’t do it out of trying to be defiant or disobedient. We don’t want to get angry because our child literally is incapable of doing something that we expect.
Emily: [laughs] Another thing that can happen is you get frustrated because you feel like you have corrected a child, maybe you have been keeping them with discipline, but you’re still dealing with the same issue over and over again because, guess what, your kids are sinners. That can be really frustrating especially when you feel like, “I’ve been working on this for two years.” I remember we went through a season with my twins where they did not want to sleep at night. We literally, for months, we were on them. We did all the right things from a parenting perspective and nothing worked. We would get so frustrated but one day, they just went to sleep and that was the end of it. [laughter] We never had a problem with it ever again. In the meantime, that can be a real anger trigger when we forget this is just sin nature and guess what, I have things I keep doing over and over and over again and the Lord is so gracious.
Laura: Finally, we want to be aware of some of those external causes. A lot of these things are issues we haven’t really dealt with with our kids but if you have not gotten a lot of sleep, you’ve got a newborn, you’ve got kids like Emily where they’re getting up out of bed all the time, in that example, or maybe you’re super hormonal, you still have to be kind. Emily and I can both attest. We’re both pregnant and so we are feeling the whacky hormones or you’re PMSing or whatever, that’s where we want to be aware that those are not excuses. Just because you are PMSing, you are not allowed to be like, “I get to be mean and rude to everybody because my hormones are going crazy.” No, not an excuse. I have tried it many times and it doesn’t work.
Emily: We maybe mentioned this in our last show about saying, “I’m going to be different. This is going to stop on its own,” is when we are in those exhausted hormonal stages. Because if you’re having even several young little kids in a row, it’s easy to be like, “Okay, when it’s not a newborn, when I’m done nursing,” [laughs] and it’s like, “Wait a minute, it’s been three years and I haven’t been done doing any of those things.” It’s a legitimate thing to be aware of, like Laura said, but at some point, we have to go, “This though cannot be an excuse to sin against my children.”
Laura: Unfortunately, these little years, we can come up with a lot of excuses but it’s not worth it. How do we fight this? We’ve gone through identifying a lot of common triggers and those are one way of eliminating many of those triggers. Figuring out, “What’s setting me off? How can I plan ahead? How can I change things up in my daily life so that I am no longer dealing with that?” But we talked about our kids are still sinners, we live in a fallen world, this is not perfection so we are still going to be dealing with the issue of anger, and impatience, and frustration on a daily basis, if you are a normal human being, [laugher] so I hope you all are. All the stuff we said in the show, we are not going to go through and repeat it here, but all the stuff that we said last week, about having a right perspective about what sin is, and what grace is, and who you are in your standing before the throne, remind yourself of the truth of that gospel. How do we do that? That’s what we’re going to get into.
Emily: One thing, and this is really hard for me, is to just pray and to stop either in those moments, or especially in the morning before I start my day. I think that is a big one that, when I’ve done my Bible study or I’ve done my quiet time, to stop and pray through who I am, who God is, what Jesus did for me and what that means for me today, especially focusing on my anger or my frustration. I feel like prayer is one of those things, as soon as I stop and pray, it is immediately admitting that I do not have it all together and I need God. I can be really stubborn in that, I need to grow that, but that is a great way to fight sin.
Laura: And be specific. It’s so funny how sometimes we are like, “I need help Lord.” Be specific and say, “I get upset when this happens. God, please help me. I don’t want to sin anymore because I know that’s not who I am. I am a new creation in you.” How do we learn what to pray or how to talk to God or how do we hear from God? It’s amazing. We have this thing called the Bible [laughter] and God speaks to us through the Bible. Get in God’s word every single day moms. This is so much more important than social media. It is so much more important than watching whatever show you are watching online, that you feel super committed to and you don’t miss an episode. Don’t miss time in God’s word. This is where you are going to learn who you are. When we read the Bible, what we really want to do is learn about who God is. That’s what the Bible tells us. We don’t open the Bible and say, “What does this say about me? How does this touch me and identify with my anger?” What you are going to be doing, we hope that you do when you read the Bible, is that you look at the Bible and say, “God what does this say about you? What could I learn about you? How does that change me? Because I know this about you, how does that change me?” I don’t know about you, Emily, but I feel like once a day isn’t even enough because Lord, I’m still a sinner. Personally, I will share with you guys, I’m starting to read the Bible again around four o'clock and read a short psalm, and hit the reset button to go into the witching hour. If you’ve got to read it six times a day, keep that Bible open and don’t be afraid. Don’t feel like you’re a one-and-done person because sin is not a one-and-done.
Emily: That leads us into our next one of remembering that part of our role as a mom and passing along the gospel is reminding our children that we need Jesus too, and confessing to them. “Mommy should not have talked to you that way,” or, “Mommy needs to trust God. This is something that God is working on in my heart.” It’s a wonderful example to them that Jesus and the gospel are powerful. They’re powerful for mommy and they’re powerful for our children too. It’s a great way to stop you in your tracks.
Laura: Exactly, oh man, it is very humbling but it’s a very beautiful picture as you are saying, Em. Finally, one of the things we want to talk about is community and accountability with anger. I think anger is one of those things we don’t really like admitting to each other or even believing that another mom struggles with. It’s one of those things where you have this perfect mom friend and you can’t even imagine her getting upset so why would you ever confess that that’s a struggle but it happens to everyone. All that stuff that we talked about, about grace and sin and all of that, that liberates you from any pretenses of trying to wear a mask with your friends. We hope that even by Emily and I’s example of sharing, because you guys, we’ve been talking about doing this show for six or eight months and have not even got the courage to really speak about it because we feel so behind in this area. We hope that this is an example to you of being able to confess and be very honest about where we struggle because there is power in that. God, in his beautiful plan has created a way for us to be able to encourage one another as we admit sin and confess it, and then we begin to move beyond just saying, “Yes, I get angry too,” and, “That sets me off too,” and, “I totally get it; you are so normal.” Let’s move beyond that to saying, “Hey, me too but what am I going to do about that? How can we stop being like this?” Let’s not fester and wallow in that sin but instead, let’s move beyond it with the hope that Jesus Christ brings to us and pray for one another and with each other.
Emily: Again, even if you aren’t struggling maybe with this right now, let’s say you’re like, “Okay, I really don’t understand this,” but your friend comes to you and is jokingly, “I had a bad day with my kids again. I wasn’t really patient with them,” I think, how can we respond graciously, remembering that we shouldn’t condemn other people or make them feel shame for this because that puts somebody into a hole. [laughs]
We had this Milton Vincent quote in our notes and I think we shared this gospel part of it before but, “With the worst facts about me exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling I truly have nothing left to hide,” and it’s true. There is no sin that has not been paid for in your life, in your friend’s life, and because of that, we can be free to share in community.
Laura: Amen, I love that. I feel like there has been so much good fruit in my life when I feel like I have admitted things to close friends and been able to be held accountable and to grow and improve. We hope that this show has been an encouragement to you. I know we barely scratched the surface of probably some of those things we can do, but the biggest thing if we can press it on you is to get in God’s word moms, to become biblically literate, and reading the truth of the gospel, and letting it wash over you, and encourage you and admit that weakness. Because God’s light will shine the brightest against that really bleak and dark backdrop of your sin. That is where he shows up and there is a beauty in the gospel when you admit that you are a weak mom in need of a savior, yet you continue to serve and love your family well. That is the gospel right there. Go forth today and try to make changes in your day if you’re struggling with this.
Emily: We’ll try to have some more resources as well on our show notes. You can find those on risenmotherhood.com. Again, you can find us across all social media platforms, well, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, [laughs] the ones we’re on, @RisenMotherhood. If you’ve enjoyed this show, you’re enjoying listening to Risen Motherhood, it would mean a lot to us if you would leave a rating, a review on iTunes. Thanks for joining us.