We had a terrible morning. It started with the big girls. They were grumping about having to put lotion on their scaly legs. They grumped when I asked them to switch seats while eating their breakfast so I could reach Sunshine's hair. It took her approximately 3,487 hours to eat one small bowl of oatmeal when we were already low on time. Ok, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But still. Lil's hair looked like it got stuck in an industrial size fan. And it's a huge pain to get that hair-do combed through. #curlyhairproblems. They were moving slowly. They huffed at me. Huffed at each other. There may have even been some dog-like growling involved.
And then despite our family Bible Verse, Let your gentleness be evident to all. - Philippians 4:5, I snapped.
Something to the tune of....
"You two have two choices. You can get up at 6:00am, fix your own hair, make your own breakfast, pack your own lunch and get yourselves down to the bus stop on your own, OR I can get you up at 6:30, help you with your hair, help you with your lunch, help you with your breakfast, and drive you to school. YOU WILL NOT TREAT ME LIKE YOU'VE BEEN TREATING ME. I WILL NOT TOLERATE THE CONSTANT GRUMPING. I AM DOING EVERYTHING I CAN TO HELP YOU TWO AND IF YOU DON'T APPRECIATE MY HELP, YOU TWO ARE ON YOUR OWN. I am going to the van. Finish getting yourselves ready and meet me out there. Oh, and don't forget to brush your teeth!!!!!"
Shew! Poor Sunshine was crying. I wanted to cry. Lil has thick skin. She's used to my tantrums for earlier years.
They got their stuff together and made their way to the van.
We always pray together on our short drive to school. Funny huh...act like I've lost my mind and then pray.
As the seconds past and the tears fell, the guilt settled in on me. How are you supposed to be a model of "gentleness" if you flip out and loose your mind. Where is your patience? Where is you kindness? You know how Satan basically creeps in and yells, "you suck!" right in your ear!?!?!
So I went first praying out loud. "Dear God, Thank you so much for these beautiful, healthy girls. Thank you for the food in their bellies and in their lunch boxes. For our clothes and shoes and home, for this awesome school and these great teachers who are waiting for us. God please forgive me for being such a jerk to these girls. For being impatient. For yelling. For walking out on them. God, please forgive me and please help them to forgive me and help me to be more kind and gentle tomorrow."
And then they each prayed (a much shorter prayer) and then we hugged and kissed and they went on their way to school.
As soon as they came home later that afternoon, they both ran to me to apologize for their behavior that morning. (I had told Mike about our crappy morning, and he's so good about backing me up. He'll give them the "Don't you dare treat your mother that way" spill. And when he talks, oddly enough, they actually listen!) I gave them both big huge hugs and said something like, "Don't worry girls. You are both totally forgiven. We all wake up grumpy and sassy sometimes. Tomorrow, we'll all do better. Even me. I'll try to not get so bent out of shape with you two."
And that was that. Total forgiveness. For them and for myself. I couldn't let a bad morning turn into a bad night.
One of the very BEST things that I have learned is this, Forgive yourself and forgive others. The faster, the better. You can't be a joyful momma or have a joyful home without forgiveness. Kids have to know that they are free to mess up. Momma's have to know that it's normal to occasionally loose their minds and holler like a crazy woman! Of course we want to be gentle and patient. Most hours, we are. But sometimes we just fail. Lack of sleep. Stress. Worry. Fear. Insecurities. Distractions. All kinds of thing cause us to be exactly what we don't want to be. We can drown in it, or make a choice to let it go.
Sometimes forgiving ourselves is the hardest part. But we have to. If we truly believe that Jesus died on the cross FOR OUR SINS, then we have to let our mistakes go. To give ourselves Grace. To take the time to genuinely say to others"I am really sorry" and to really mean it when you say, "God help me to be more ______ the next time" and to understand, there really might be a next time. We aren't perfect people and we will continue to sin daily until the day we die.
I think a lot of people are walking around hurting because of their pride. Their unwillingness to say, "I am so sorry. I know I hurt you. I was wrong."
In my case, clearly my girls were being pills. Their attitudes toward me were awful. If I had chosen to wait for them to apologize, I could have been waiting for well, ....forever. As a mom of young kids, I hold myself somewhat responsible for their actions, but I am also responsible for my RESPONSE. And the truth is, my responses aren't always pretty. My fuse can be so short and words fly out of my mouth that sometimes even shock ME! I could say, "Well if they weren't so ________, then I wouldn't have to be so _________" but that's simply not true. I am accountable for every word that comes out of my mouth, regardless of how other people act.
Joyful people know how to forgive themselves and forgive others. Joyful homes are places where it is safe to mess up. They know that no matter what, they are loved. They will be forgiven. I don't think it sparks an attitude of ....well lets just all act like big jerks, but let's be loving because we are unconditionally loved.
Verses to ponder:
*Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
*Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
*Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32