Monday, October 25, 2010

Thing Six: What to do when you mess up

This morning I am packing up to take my kiddos and dog home from a weekend of worship and fellowship. For many years I volunteered at the Freshwind conference, hauling chairs around and cleaning bathrooms (okay, honestly, I usually tried to delegate the bathrooms), but this year was special. At this year's conference, I had the huge privilege of being one of the workshop speakers. Can I just say - my body and mind are just as exhausted as they have been every other year! (Honestly, though, I do know those volunteers had to deal with a lot more crap than I did! If you were there, you know what I mean ;))

Not only did I enjoy the hours of catching up with some old friends (you know who you are), but I had the opportunity to meet some new ones. I just want to send a quick shout out to them: Rhiannon, Kathy from New Sarepta, Heidi, Monika, Pam, Charlotte and friends from Calgary, and Pam and Wendy from "the Park," and about 90 others whose names I didn't learn. Hi girls! Thanks for spending your time with me Saturday afternoon. :)

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Okay, let's get on with the good stuff! :)

In my session, Mommy, why are you Angry? I shared five things God has taught me in our journey to break free from my "addiction" to venting my anger and frustration on my kids. (I sure hope that, if you were in my session on Saturday, you've had a chance to review the handout and are thinking about your first steps. Are you going to start exploring your childrens' love languages? Do a spiritual gifts inventory for yourself? Have you started writing out those verses and sticking them all over your world?) But there is an important sixth point that I still need to talk about - what should I do when I mess up?

Heaven knows that I have messed up more times than I can count on this journey! I don't know about you, but I tend to be an "all or nothing" girl. When I am trying to lose weight (when am not?!), for example, I jump in with both feet - I count points, I exercise, and I am diligent. But then someone has a birthday and messes with my system. You see, I am powerless to resist a good, fat slice of cake. And once I let that one piece pass my lips, I begin to feel defeated. I lost the battle, so I may as well quit trying. And I fall face-first, mouth wide open off the wagon. This all or nothing mindset carries to most areas of my life, including yelling. I resolve to never yell again, and when I slip up and let a frustrated holler go I feel weak and discouraged, so I just give up. Then I'm just "a yeller" as opposed to being a mom who is trying to change but is a failure.

Is anyone relating to this?!

Here are three quick tips on dealing with the inevitable mess ups:

1. Celebrate every little success.

We can't experience success if we look at life through the all or nothing lens. If our goal is perfection, we will constantly fall short. So stop resolving to be perfect! Start resolving to do better next time. Take it one frustrating experience at a time. And if next time you want to lose your cool but instead give yourself a time out - you have succeeded! Write it down! Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back! And don't forget to praise the Lord!

2. Always ask forgiveness.

There will be next times when the yelling still sneaks out. The one thing we can never afford to do is ignore those mistakes. When we ignore sin and pretend it isn't there, it grows. We need to allow God to bring our sin into His light, so He can remove it. When we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us - every single time (yes, even if it's the 10,000th time). Remember, too, that God isn't the only One we need to seek forgiveness from - so many angry words can be instantly healed by the simple act of telling our children that we're sorry.

(See 1 John 1:9. Use a concordance to look up some verses containing the words "repent," "forgive," and "confess.")

3. Pray about your anger every day.

Event today, when I am (finally) less "angry mommy" and more "mommy who sometimes messes up and gets angry," I still ask God to help me with my anger every single day. I plan to continue to do so until the day I die. You see, when something begins to gain victory over us, we will (in most cases) always be particularly susceptible to that struggle. For example, I quit smoking nearly eight years ago. Obviously, I am no longer addicted. Yet put me in a certain situation, especially with other smokers, and my foolish mind begins to entertain thoughts of having "just one drag." The enemy knows our areas of weakness, and he is relentless in his pursuit of our failure! The best guard we have against his tricks and temptations is daily prayer for protection and strength.

Basically, it all comes down to changing our thinking. (Sound familiar?) To continue the whole diet analogy, we have to stop thinking like we're on a diet, and begin living like we're making a lifestyle change. It's not all or nothing, but one step at a time toward the goal. And while our daily weigh-ins may not all show the results we're looking for, if we begin to track progress over time (remember #1 - write down those successes) we will see positive change!

One last thing I want to say to you. When you mess up, you are not a bad mom. Wait, I'm not sure you're really hearing that. You are not a bad mom! When you mess up, you are a good mom who messed up. So say, "Oops," and keep moving forward. Because you are a good mom! You are exactly the mom God chose for your children. Say it with me, I am a good mom!

There are lots of other resources on my blog relating to anger, to figuring out your calling, and for spiritual growth and encouragement. (There are also lots of mindless tidbits about me and my life.) Please stay a while and surf around. I just love visitors! :) Here are the links to a couple number of posts I think you'll enjoy:

Friday Feast (our four-week challenge to read God's Word daily)
Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks (a few tips in anger management)
How to Help an Angry Mom (a series, parts 3 & 4 are all about child training)
When God Messes up Your Plans (how God has been working in my life)
Are You Burying Your Talents? (wondering what your calling is? this might help)


  1. Thank you for being open to the Holy Spirit and sharing your journey with us. Your words were encouraging. It was nice to see 90 more people who were at least curious about the topic of being an angry mother at Freshwind on Saturday. I am just beginning to sort out some of the things you said in my brain, but if my kids knew that I heard you speak, they would want to thank you too! I am going to start with Bible verses on index cards and go from there. I hope and pray that I am a far less "angry mommy" very soon! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your encouraging words, friend! Please know that you are in my prayers.

  3. Your little session reminded me that I am a good mom, even if I don't feel like it sometimes. There were moments in my day today that I could have gotten angry but decided to breath and keep repeating I will not be angry, I will keep my patience.

    You have poured so much insight into my life. It was nice knowing I wasn't the "only one" that went through those times. That it is ok if we mess up every once in a while and that I was on the right track by apologizing to my children every time I messed up.

    You have been an inspiration in my life and I prayed to God on my way home from the conference that I vowed to be a better mom and to control those issues.

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are an amazing woman :-)


  4. Thank you Tyler for being open with the group on Saturday! I am so glad that you led the session at Freshwind, so that moms such as myself could recognize we are not alone in this struggle and there are ways to help us be strong and control our anger. The notes you provided have already been shared to 2 other people who weren't at the session but struggle with Mommy anger, and were curious to see what you had spoken about. Thanks again, you are a wonderful woman that I look up to!


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