Today (or tonight, as the case may be), I am super excited to present some very wise words from a very special lady. I cannot remember exactly how I came across Tyler’s blog. But, at any rate, I’m glad and thankful that we found each other in this great big bloggy world. Tyler, even simply through the uplifting comments she leaves here, has been a great source of encouragement in my life. I know you’ll be blessed as well.
Be sure to check out her blog, especially her Spirit inspired thoughts on “Mommy Anger”. Yeah, it’s about to get real, real quick.
Enough Yelling Already!
Guest Post by E. Tyler Rowan
There has been WAY too much yelling going on in our house this past month. I don’t know about you, but when life gets kinda crazy, so do I. School is back in session, extra-curricular activities resume, and the lazy days of summer are a distant memory.
So much that needs to get done. So much I want to get done. And so many darn interruptions!
Mom, can I have some juice?
Mom, play this game with me.
Mommy, can I spray the windows?
I already started…
Moooooom, she’s not letting me sit on the couch!
Honey, I’m going to be home late tonight.
All I want to do is scream, “QUI-ET!!! Can’t a girl just have five minutes to herself every now and then?!” After all, it’s a little difficult to do all sorts of good things for my family (a clean house, a home-cooked meal, folded laundry) and all sorts of Godly things for ministry (encouraging someone on the phone, sending an email of thanks, preparing a talk) when the busy routines of five children interfere.
I’ve never thought in exactly these terms before, but my impatience, irritability, and yelling are communicating just that to my children. My actions (and attitudes) are telling my kids, “You are an interference. You are a distraction. You get in the way of what I really want to do.” Ouch.
The thing is, I know this is wrong! I know that the most important good and Godly thing I can do is invest in my children. I know they need my time and attention. I know I’m being selfish. But knowing doesn’t necessarily translate into doing.
So how can we move from the knowing to the doing?
Over nearly thirteen years of mothering, I have learned that I can’t. Simply put, I am not capable of “getting over myself” and my own selfish desires, my own laziness, my own crabbiness and impatience. I cannot stop the yelling. Not on my own.
But if I’m willing to let Him, God can. (I can see a couple eyes rolling right now. It sounds so cliché! I know, I know. But stick with me.) Here are three things God has taught me about how to let Him change the stuff I can’t.
1. Fill up.
If I am empty, drained, and exhausted, all I can think about is how tired I am and how much everyone demands of me. Of course, there are practical things I can do to fill up. I can get enough rest, I can eat well, I can exercise (yeah, right), I can take breaks… These are all helpful, and they will certainly help like a bandage helps a scrape, but they won’t cure what ails me.
The cure is found in getting my spiritual needs filled by Jesus. I need to go to Him every day and ask to be filled. Not by following a set of “rules” about how and when and for how long to read my Bible, or what order to present my prayer requests in. But by honestly wanting to know Him and spend time with Him, by seeking out His truth on the matters of life, and by returning to Him every time I feel my day going sideways.
A friend once told me that the fastest route to an attitude adjustment is to “act in the opposite spirit.” For example, if I am at the computer doing some writing (ahem) and a child comes to ask for something, my typical response would be to tell the child to wait. Instead, maybe I should try to drop what I’m doing and say “Yes!”
It sounds simplistic, yet we all know how hard it is to do what we don’t feel like doing. I find that the more often I act in the opposite spirit, the freer I become. I am less annoyed, less likely to yell, more productive, and more in control.
3. Pour out.
I think we can all agree that children who are “filled up” are less demanding. (Kinda like us grown-ups!) The best way to fill our small peoples’ hearts is to figure out their love language* and make time to speak it to them. The short and sweet version of the five love languages is: quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, giving gifts, and acts of service.
I have one child whose love language is physical touch. Every time she walks past me (or I past her), she stretches her arms wide and says, “Huggie!” Another child, whose love language is quality time, asks me to play a board game with her virtually every day. If I take a few minutes to ensure the needs of those five small people are being met, I am often surprised by the glorious silence in the house! Spending a few intentional minutes filling them up results in: less sibling squabbling, less bugging, less begging, less whining, and (surprise) less yelling. And if I know they’ve been filled up, I can take set-aside times for myself without guilt. I can say, “Not right now. It’s Mommy’s computer time. But we will play the game in half an hour.”
This week, as I hunker down for another seven days full of packing lunches, doing homework, driving to activities, plus writing, studying, and prepping talks – all with a hard-working hubby who won’t be home in time for dinner most days, I am committed to stopping the yelling. Is there anyone else who needs a fresh start this week? Why don’t you join me?
We won’t be “trying harder,” or making fancy schedules, or enlisting elaborate discipline strategies. Instead, together, we’ll let God do His thing. Let’s let Him fill us up and adjust our attitudes, so that we can turn around and fill them up. Who’s with me?
*The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a great resource, both for understanding our spouses and our children.
Tyler’s time is shared between her roles as wife, mother to five, homemaker, speaker, writer, and women’s ministry consultant. Her desire is to see women experiencing the freedom and fellowship that come from leading transparent lives, developing strong spiritual habits, and discovering the power of Christ in their lives and ministries. She is currently working on her first book, Mommy, Why Are You Angry? You can find Tyler on her blog, Titus2:3-5 and on facebook.