I could have sworn this post published last week…I even checked?! I must be crazy. Anyway, if this is a repeat, I apologize.
Sharing things that I’ve failed at doesn’t exactly bring me joy. However, when I began to realize that I was going to have to be obedient to God’s conviction and write a blog, God showed me that I would have to be honest, real, vulnerable. That I would have to be truthful and tell you things about being a wife, a mom, a believer, a woman that maybe weren’t so glamorous or flattering or honorable or joyful. This was one reason I held off for so long. There are a lot of things I don’t want to tell you about myself. But, in the end, I realized that I am just God’s servant girl, and right now, He wants me to tell you some of the stories He’s given me so you can connect, so you can relate, so you can see God in my stories and in the stories that He’s given you. Last week, in A #parentingfail – Part 1, I had to disclose what I see as one of my biggest failings as a mother. This week, I reveal the answer I got from God after years of pleading to Him to make me a better mom.
After I scream at one of my kids or slam the door in frustration over something they’ve done, I feel the most horrid feeling. It’s like my heart and soul are fighting to stay alive. I feel tight and hot and putrid in the center of my chest. Satan tells me I am not fit to be a mom. He whispers that, if I continue yelling at my children, my son in particular, they will hate me when they grow up and will have nothing to do with me. Then, the tears come, hot down my cheeks, and I just want to curl into a dark corner and stay there. It’s a disturbing feeling – the notion that your children might walk away from you one day and never look back.
I don’t want that.
Early on, I read all the articles I could find and talked to as many people as I dared to admit to that I frequently lost my temper with my children.
And, I cried. Storehouses of tears.
And, I prayed. Mountains of prayers. For God to take away my temper and make me stop yelling at my children. For them to still love me even after all my temper tantrums.
But then, I’d be right back in that place, that hot, angry place where I’d end up screaming again. And, I’d think, “why aren’t my prayers working?! Why am I still yelling so much?”
Truthfully, the years have worn off the sharpest edges. I’ve learned better ways to interact or deal with disagreements or how to walk away. So, there has been some improvement, but it has been minuscule compared to what I wanted – a total transformation, a 180 degree turn…June Cleaver, maybe? 😉
I didn’t think God was answering my prayers if He didn’t make me stop yelling altogether…after all, that was what I asked for, cried for, in my prayers.
Then, a few years ago, I was in a Be Still Mama Bible study, and we read Stuck by Jennie Allen. In the study, Allen discusses 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 where Paul discloses the thorn in his flesh and how he has pleaded with God to take it away from him.
So, to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ ESV
In essence, God told Paul no. God would not take away the thing that was tormenting Paul.
Why not? Why would God say no to a fervent prayer from one of His children? Why wouldn’t He give relief when it was requested?
The answer was the same for Paul then as it is for me now: Without the thorn, Paul wouldn’t look to God as he should. Without my thorn, I wouldn’t lean on God as I should.
Our weaknesses, just like our strengths, are God-given – and they are both ultimately for God’s glory. We use our strengths to glorify Him, and we bring Him glory in our weaknesses as well.
How is that? That doesn’t make sense!
When we are weak – when we lose our tempers and yell at our children, for example – we must acknowledge our need for God.
When we read every possible child psychology and parenting article, scouring for something that will work, and we still yell, we come face-to-face with our need for God.
And we throw ourselves down at His feet. We beg forgiveness. We confess that we can’t do it alone. We ask Him to help us.
In our weakness, He is strong.
I remember the moment I came to that conclusion after completing the section in the Stuck study where Allen talked about Paul.
I KNEW in that moment that God said no to me, that the temper and outbursts were a thorn in my flesh that wasn’t going anywhere.
And, you know what? I was immediately at peace with it. Immediately! That was my confirmation that God was indeed saying no but that everything would be alright. God always gives peace.
Now, this isn’t to say that God will always say no to our requests. Surely He’s said yes to some of yours as He has said yes to some of mine.
And, it isn’t to say that He’ll say no to you specifically about your temper and your interactions with your children. You may get a different answer.
What’s more, it isn’t to say that God won’t give me relief in some ways. He has. He has let me see better ways of interacting with my children that don’t always lead to meltdowns. There will probably be other breakthroughs and lessons to learn in the future as well. We are called to pray no matter what.
What I am saying is, It’s ok to ask. It’s ok to plead and cry. However, if you pray and the answer is no, do not be discouraged. Accept God’s peace when He says no. Find solace in the fact that He is leaving the weakness so that you’ll lean into Him and grow closer to Him. He will get glory in some way, and that is in fact our ultimate purpose, to glorify God with our lives, even through parts we don’t like.
When has God told you no? What were you asking for? How did it feel when you realized that the answer to your prayer was no? I realize that these may be painful situations, but, if you are willing, please share as your stories can help others in similar situations.
*I’ll conclude A #parentingfail next week with Part 3.
I wanted to share some of the notes I took in the Stuck study after I realized God was telling me that He wasn’t going to take the thorn in my flesh. It was a kind of prayer that I journaled. Maybe it will help you, too.
It was written in response to the following instructions: Read about the apostle Paul’s stuck places. As you read, think about these two questions – “Who are you, Lord?” and “What do you want from me?” and journal your thoughts…
My response – Who are you, Lord? – a God full of grace – a God with enough grace for me and all the horrible things I have said, done, and thought. A God whose power is most evident when I am weak. When I know and accept that I am weak, I cannot brag and take credit for the blessings and good things in my life. I have to accept that these things have come from God.
What do you want from me? God wants me to allow myself to be weak. God wants me to lay the weaknesses on Him. God wants me to give Him the glory when He sustains me despite my weaknesses. The weaknesses allow me to see that I do need God. The weaknesses take the pressure off me – I don’t have to be perfect, strong…I can’t be those things. The weaknesses allow me to make room for God – to let Him take over.