Friday, February 18, 2011

What to do When you Mess up

I had a fantastic morning yesterday, gathering together with the women of Home by Choice to talk about mommy anger. If you're here visiting from HBC, please, please, please leave a comment or send an email so I know you stopped by! All the rest of you... please, please, please leave a comment or send an email! *grin*

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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 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 or explore Now, Discover Your Strengths for yourself? Have you started writing out those verses, phrases, and affirmations 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 at least I can say "I'm just a yeller" - as opposed to being a mom who is trying to change, but keeps on failing.

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 or biblegateway 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:

The Dot System - a seriously brilliant organizing tip for moms with multiple kids

How to be Superwoman (or not), parts one and two - how to "do it all"

Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks - a few tips in anger management, plus a familiar story

Children Aren't all that Different - sometimes the most helpful parenting tips can be found in dog training books

When God Messes up Your Plans - just one example of what my faith means to me and how what I believe affects how I live

This will make you feel Better about Yourself - a pathetic tale of my day starring as "worst mother in the world"


  1. Ok that post was soooo what I needed to hear. I have been feeling so confident lately (due to all the parenting books I've read and my new strategies and attitudes) and yesterday was a disaster at my house. And I was the one causing the chaos! I felt very defeated and needed some encouragement on that very issue. So, thank you! What you said really helped me put things back in perspective and I am going to do better today! Yay! Thanks :)

  2. I am so happy that you are getting to share your valuable lessons to younger moms - both by speaking and on this blog. (You know, ala, Titus 2:3-5)

    And you let us older moms read and learn, too.


  3. Sweet Friend,

    Thanks for the reminders to celebrate. We often don't do that and focus on what is not rather than what is!

    Blessings to you!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing with us Tyler!! Such a blessing to hear your story, and your experiences!

    So blessed by your testimony!
    Thank you!!

  5. Thanks for the wonderful tips,looking forward to reading more from you..You are really an inspiration and provide faith and courage..Thanks!!

  6. Thank you for sharing your story with HBC. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you're not perfect especially to a room full of mothers. I could relate to a lot of the things you said and was encouraged that change is possible.

  7. Thanks for sharing at HBC - great presentation and ideas. Look forward to reading your blog!!


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