Children play in the basement below my domestic choreography, thunder of feet and crazy laughter…A shatter of glass splinters the rhythm.
A child screams.
I wince eyes tight and the arteries tighten in mother-distress.
“You did it!”
“You pushed me right into it! I didn’t do a thing!”
…..I’m wound tight. I’m pressing my molars together, compressing the jaw. Clenching the hands tight….
“What in the world were you thinking? How many times have we said no running? I am just…” I’m spewing and it’s ugly and the words are so frazzled with frustration, they fray midstream. I can feel the slow smothering, the tight choking, and I can feel it in the throat, rising…this moan, this baying bawl…an injured animal wild, the trapped mad, and this is not a David lament. But I carry these David words memorized, grace for when I can’t get the David lament right: “I was so foolish and ignorant – I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.” (Psalm 73:22).
God holds us in the untamed moments too.
From Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts
Ann Voskamp describes life in a way I never can. But this is what I see as our battlefield. This picture here.
In case you missed yesterday, this week I’m tackling challenges working moms confront. Yesterday’s battlefield was drinking. I almost entitled today “yelling.” Then I decided it was more than that. The battlefield is reacting.
It’s reacting without a filter when stuff comes hurtling at us. The kids break a picture frame. The husband makes a remark that catches you off guard. The committee volunteer sends a snippy email. The friend fails to come through as promised.
And so, already exhausted and overcommitted (more to come on that Thursday), we yell at the kids, lash out at the husband, respond with a snide email to the volunteer, or freeze out the friend. It is not done with grace. It is not done with deliberation. The reaction is instantaneous. The weakest part of ourselves. Us out of step with our Creator who designed us for more. Who grants us more grace than that every single day.
Or maybe it’s just me.
Ann goes on to say in her spectacular One Thousand Gifts that even in the midst of the raggedness of our spirit we must give thanks in the midst of it all regardless of the coursing emotions. “While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things…True saints know that the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings: joy comes from the place of the very presence of God.”
If we’re smack dab in the middle of thankfulness and joy despite our circumstances, we’re not reacting in the moment harming those who love us.
You know what’s missing? I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again: Self-Control.
I deeply believe though that we are not strong enough on our own to tame this inexpressible desire to react in the midst of a hard moment. To yell. To criticize. To alienate.
I believe we can only do it with the power of the Almighty God standing with us and guiding us to “take joy” (Habakkuk 3:18) in the midst of this battlefield instead of firing reactionary words against the soldiers that are ON OUR SIDE.
A friend shared these verses in a comment to yesterday’s post and it resonates so deeply for every single battlefield:
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13)
It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil. 2:13)
We are so blessed to serve in this dual-pressure-cooker role. First, we are employed. We have jobs in a country when many are still without them despite months of searching. The fact that we have careers should motivate us with thankfulness instead of short-tempered reactions. Second, we have children. We are mothers – the most breathtaking gift God can give. So we are working moms. It is hard. But we must be grateful.
I’m going to be working on this along with all of the battlefields. What comes out of my mouth can not be taken back. My reactions must be filled with grace and favor regardless of the circumstance:
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire…With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3)