It had been a particularly trying night. My sons had been fighting with me, and each other, and I’d been doing everything in my power not to yell back. The last thing I wanted was to add to the chorus of ‘stop it’ and ‘don’t’ and ‘aarghhh!!!’
My job is to be the calm one, right?
Calm, yet firm. In control, aware of my emotions, centred… The parent, not the oldest child. Yes, the parent – not the pushover.
I was trying – and failing, fast.
The minutes were racing towards their designated bedtime and my heart was pounding with either excitement at the prospect of ‘me time’ or the adrenaline of trying to wrangle two argumentative boys. Don’t know which. Either way, we were nearly there.
My nine-year-old was ramping it up more than usual, pushing back on my every request, pushing his brother, pushing every boundary.
“Maybe you need to get to bed earlier tonight,” I said. “You seem very tired…”
“No! I’m fine!” he yelled, before knocking over several toys in his path.
“What’s going on with you, Tom?” I said.“You seem really angry.”
At that point he started crying; sobbing…
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he said. “I can’t stop this attitude. I keep having this attitude, and I don’t know how to stop…”
It’s a rare moment when a child confesses to an attitude problem.
As he continued to tell me about his ‘issues below the tip of the iceberg’, which included some mild bullying at school, and a general feeling of ‘not fitting in’, it made me think about my own ‘stuff’. Often my behaviours stem from deeper concerns too, and I don’t always take the time to address them.
Recently, I said goodbye to a church I’d been part of for over six years, and it was hard. I also changed workplaces after being at the same publishing company for close to 15 years.
Change is hard. Really hard.
And I think all of it has affected my emotional responses to my family, in subtle ways.
We all have worries and concerns that are simmering under the surface, and we tend to react by either melting down or shutting down. But the best thing we can do for ourselves when our behaviours take us by surprise, is to stop and question them. To do a bit of digging. And engage in a bit of raw honesty.
Sometimes we need to admit that ‘our attitude’ may be connected to something else… something deeper. Something which needs the hand of God on it, and the Spirit’s gentle guidance as we go to the Word and ask for fresh insight.
For me, working through all the changes in my life over the last 12 months has meant creating dedicated time with God where I talk freely and openly about how I’m feeling and what I’m struggling with. And he’s been gently leading me back to Scripture, where I’ve found refreshment and nourishment for the road ahead.
I’ve been able to admit my weariness and entrust my fears and concerns to him as I’ve spoken out loud – or written down in my journal – the words of God and allowed them to minister to my tired heart.
What are some of the areas of your life that need a bit more ‘digging’ with the help of a ‘gardener’ who knows you through and through?
John 15 says:
"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
We depend on Jesus for everything, starting with our very lives – “for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Only Jesus can bring the healing and wholeness that we long for. Only Jesus can help us live fruitful lives for His glory.
Let’s pray that we’d have eyes to read between the lines of our lives and see what God needs us to see and faith to trust Him in the times and places that require pruning.
Lord, help us not to carry our ‘stuff’ alone. Help us to have the wisdom to take it to you; to engage in Scripture; and allow you to direct our thinking so that our attitude and actions are transformed. Help us to receive your grace for each new day, as we dig up all those things ‘under the surface’ and bring them into your glorious light. Help us to abide in you each and every day and be willing to serve you with our whole selves.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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