I used to work in AWANA with a woman who said that her mother (get this!) never once raised her voice. Never once yelled at her, but always used a calm steady voice. As you might imagine, we stared at her like she had lobsters crawling out of her ears. Not because of who her mother happened to be, but because of the super huge feat that is. We had to admit it made perfect sense, because these two daughters of That Woman were the gentlest creatures we knew. As were their children.
But come on. Never once raised her voice? Like... never?
Sooooo, when you flushed an entire roll of toilet paper... no yelling? When you took a Sharpie marker to the walls... no shouting? When you stabbed Mother's size 10 knitting needle into the couch cushion 947 times because that ka-thunk ka-thunk sound amused you... no wailing, no weeping, no gnashing of teeth? Nothing?
Yeah. We weren't buying it.
The woman's sister walked in, and after a few moments of memory-searching, it was confirmed that their mother never once yelled at them. I only have three words to say to that: a-maz-ing.
Now I know that nobody is perfect. No, not one. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No child is perfect and none of us mothers has it all figured out. There is no such thing as the perfect mother. Even if you think your mother had it wired? I will bet you a million iced grande hazelnut lattes (Starbucks please, make it a triple) that she didn't think she had it wired. We, all of us, have things we want to improve upon. Aspects of our personality or character that we would gladly hack out with an axe if we could.
Proverbs 15:1 - A kind answer turns away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.
It's a science, baby. A recipe. Do this, you get that. This? Then that. This that this that. Scream at your children, they don't listen to what you say, but they do feel your attitude. Your words are meaningless. All they take away is how you're feeling about them. (I know... knife, meet heart... me too.)
I'm not saying don't discipline your children. Anyone who knows me, knows that I would never say that. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:24 that the parent who doesn't discipline her child hates that child. Think about it. It's true. And it also says to do it right then and there, and don't pay any mind to all their whining and boo-hoo'ing. Of course they don't like discipline. It's no fun. But it needs to be done. Proverbs 19:18 (I love the King James here) - Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
There's the art. You have to discipline, but you also have to find a way to do it without breaking their hearts. I don't want my children to be walking down memory lane one day and have to say how much I raised my voice. I want my home to be an escape from the meanness outside these walls. I don't want to pass on that legacy of yelling, that they no doubt will hand down to their own children. (Please God, no!) I want my love and discipline to reflect God's ways. To draw my family towards Christ!
What. a HUGE. undertaking. But! By God's grace, it is possible.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Do you hear that, fellow mother-in-the-trenches? All things. ALL. According to this verse, it IS possible. (No, really!) And did you hear that other part? It's Christ who strengthens us. We don't have the power to do it on our own.
He's our Daily Bread. He gives us what we need for each day, each hour, each circumstance, right when we need it. If God can provide food and water to the entire nation of Israel during a 40-year journey in the middle of nowhere, reluctant though they were to be there, whining every step of the way... He is big enough to provide you and me with the patience we need to stop, take a deep breath, and not destroy the child who just poured a whole box of Cheerios into the dog food bag.
Discipline? Yes. Grumpy Spice, fire-breathing, mouth-like-a-sailor (no offense, sailors!) pattern of harshness that they'll never forget, and probably inflict on their own children? No. By God's grace, no.
OK. Now you know as much as I know. If you were hoping to get to the end and find that Magic Bullet answer? Super sorry about that. I don't have it. As I said before, you may recall, I struggle with this. I don't always fail, and with prayer and much deep breathing, it's so much better now than it used to be. But I still fail more than I want to.
Tell you what. Let me know you need it, and I'll pray for you. You pray for me too, okay?