For Mom2Mom speech presented 1/16/14; written 1/4/14
This particular topic has been on my mind quite some time. While planning out our Mom2Mom year with my sidekick M back in the summer, I knew this was a topic that needed to be addressed. My “plan” at that time was to go through a detailed history of all of my personal issues with anger, a list of references including the library of books I have on this topic, etc. But God evidently wanted me to alter my plan, as you will soon see…
I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to speak on the topic of Angry Moms for awhile now. As I pondered my “speech” over the last couple of months, I found that there is so much more than just an angry mom in the spotlight. She’s not “just angry.” She’s tired, worn-out, weary, at the end of her rope, helpless, jealous, discontent, bitter, envious, neglected, proud, self-centered, insecure, clueless, lacking confidence, out of control, powerless, spiteful, hateful, shameful, ashamed, broken, desperate, in need of a savior.
Before we move forward, please let it be clear: that Savior is not and can never be her child, her husband, her house, her car, her body, her clothes, her diet, her stuff, her collections, her checklists, her goals, her accomplishments, her friends, her church, her TV shows, her books, her self-help guru, her moms group. Only Jesus can fill that empty place. Only Jesus can love unconditionally, with mercy and grace, knowing EVERY UGLY SECRET – the deepest parts – and still, He loves us.
Why Saying “lean on Jesus” isn’t always enough –
So what about angry moms? Just lean on Jesus and we’ll be all better? How I wish it were that simple! For some, maybe it is. But not for me. I was saved when I was four years old, but oh have I been angry a few times since then?!! An ugly, raging temper that rears its ugly head time and time again, despite my best efforts to stuff it away, despite my happy church face and my children with clean faces and pretty clothes. It’s time to get real, girls! We all stink! Those plastic facades are just another step we take that makes us exhausted and leaves us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled. Let’s get off the crazy fake cycle, ok? Let’s be honest now and admit we don’t have it all together all the time.
Why so angry?
So what are we to do about it? I think we need to first figure out WHY? Why the anger? Where is it coming from? I listed several sources earlier.
1. Exhaustion. Being a mom is HARD! A mom of a newborn often means sleep deprivation. (I’m certainly not at my best when I am tired.)
2. Loneliness. We may feel lonely – at 3 am, feeding a screaming baby, while the rest of the world (and likely our husband) sleeps, we may feel lonely and even resentful.
3. Jealousy. How about jealousy? I remember coming home from playdates FURIOUS because my furniture or faucet or rugs were no longer “good enough.” My friends didn’t necessarily say so, but I felt jealous of their nice new “stuff,” became discontent which turned to bitterness and anger. We can be jealous over “stuff” or over a talent someone else has. Or how about that friend with the “kind and helpful husband.” Boy, did I put some serious strain on my marriage when I whined to my husband that he didn’t offer to do bath time like so and so’s husband did. (Sad truth: if he had offered, I would have criticized the way he did bath time!)
4. Expectations. One major trigger for me is expectations! I spent a year in marriage counseling back in 2006. I learned that my expectations of others were extremely high, and my expectations of myself were actually unattainable.
5. Perfection/Control. The word “perfect” has been all but eliminated from my vocabulary since it caused such angst for me. Did you know that only God is perfect? True perfection is something we can look forward to in heaven. The song “Free to Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli has a line that always jumps out at me: “Try to fit the pieces together BUT PERFECTION IS MY ENEMY.” The new song, “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” brought me to tears when I heard it. I sure have a lot to learn to let go of! “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know, well now they know…let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go, and I’ll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone!” Another song, “Perfect People” by Natalie Grant really strikes a chord with me – can you relate? (Will try to link video here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7D-ONj8PO8 Lyrics below.)
“Perfect People” by Natalie Grant
Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while
There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God
Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again
Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough
By a perfect God [5x]
Be changed by a perfect God
Exhaustion, loneliness, jealousy, discontentment, expectations, perfection/control – all of this can lead to some really angry times.
Dealing with the issues –
1. Exhaustion: Some of this, we just have to “get through the phase,” like the newborn stage or sickness. This will pass. BUT – it’s ok to ask for help! It’s ok to say, “I really need two straight hours of sleep – can someone come hold my baby please?!”
2. Loneliness: Stop waiting for someone to call, YOU be the one to reach out! The fastest way to get over yourself is to serve someone else. Ask someone over for coffee, meet at the park, text, email, call. That person you reach out to may be feeling even lonelier than you!
3. Jealousy and Discontentment: Truly, I stopped looking at ads and catalogs and magazines and flyers. I avoided malls. I found friends who were in similar financial situations as mine. I put my eyes back in my own space and became a better homemaker, finding joy in cleaning the space I was BLESSED with, cooking for the family I had PRAYED FOR. I literally counted my blessings and turned my complaints and my rotten attitude into gratitude. (You may see my Negative Nelly/Positive Polly posts on Facebook, for example: it’s pouring rain and I have all four kids bickering in the van with me and we have to go to the orthodontist. Boo. Poor me! Let’s turn this around – I am able to drive a car, I have a car, we’re not waiting for a cab, I have four healthy children that I desperately wanted and prayed for, we’re going to an elective appointment not something awful like a surgery or chemo, we have insurance and can afford the orthodontic appliance, and the list goes on.) That doesn’t mean I get fake: I acknowledge the hurt, complaint, frustration. Then I pray that God would show me the good things, the blessings, and HE HAS NEVER FAILED!
4&5. Expectations/Perfection/Control: Here is what I say to myself – God loves me. He is in control. He is sovereign. Only He is perfect. It’s ok to have high expectations, but it’s important to show grace to others – and to ourselves. These verses are particularly helpful to me:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
I also focus on the Fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness, kindness.
Strength in our weakness
I used to be embarrassed when people would quote from the Bible about a mother’s gentleness – I was not gentle much of the time!
I Thessalonians 2:7 “We were gentle among you like a nursing mother.”
I Peter 3:4 “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
Then I realized that it’s ok that I am not perfect – when I am weak in my flesh, God is strong. Faking it isn’t the answer; acknowledging our imperfections and flaws, laying them bare before God and asking for His supernatural grace and strength and healing is how we not simply endure, but grow…bloom…flourish…in Him! THEN, He will continue to use our trials to draw others to Him, as I pray is happening now as I share my story. May YOU see HIS power, HIS love, and HIS grace…it’s for YOU too!
To God be all the glory.
Verses that talk about God’s Perfection:
James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
Psalm 18:30 God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
Isaiah 25:1 LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.
Take Heart! There is hope…
2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.