It was Monday morning and I had just come home after taking the older children to school. I was feeling a bit low as I went into the house with the little ones. It wasn’t because it was Monday, and it wasn’t because there was a big load of clothes that needed to be washed. It was a feeling of deep disappointment in myself, and it wasn’t a very nice feeling at all.
The day had started well. but that changed quickly. The children were difficult from the start — fighting, not listening, and playing instead of getting ready for school. Actually, looking back, it wasn’t even that bad. They were just doing what children do. But I just couldn’t handle it. I felt myself getting more and more irritated. The fighting didn’t stop on the way to school either. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and yelled at the children. The fighting stopped and I spoke to them about how they should behave and not get angry with each other.
My eight-year-old son listened to me and then said, “But you get angry.”
Be an example to the believers
Now I was at home, and those words were ringing loudly in my ears. It was so true, and it was why I felt so bad. This is not how I wanted to be. How could I help my children to make the right choices in life when I myself was not even living what I said?
I had been at church the day before and one of the speakers had read the verse from 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT), “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” “Who are the believers?” the speaker had asked. “It’s the ones who we are with all the time—our children, our marriage partners, our families. Are we an example to them?” I realised this is where I was really lacking.
It was easy to be “good” and behave in a “Christian” way when I was at church or at school with other parents. Why was it so difficult at home with the ones I loved? I realised that when I was around other people, I had been living a good outward life, but inside not much had changed. All I had been doing in front of others was suppressing my feelings.
But at home, where I was not as watchful as I should be, and not as worried about what other people thought of me, I just allowed my feelings of irritation and impatience to come out in my words and actions towards the ones I loved. I realised that the root of the problem was the anger and irritation inside me, in my thoughts, and I had to do something about that! That is the only way that things were going to change!
Using God’s Word in my situations
It was as if a light had gone on for me. I wasn’t happy about the way I was behaving, but I was glad I had finally seen the problem and that I could do something about it. I felt a new hope inside me. I took a firm decision that I was going to get rid of irritation and impatience no matter what it cost me, and that I was really going to be an example to my children and family first of all. The first thing I did was pray to God to give me power to do this.
I also realised that I was so busy with lots of things during the day, that I wasn’t making time to read God’s Word. I knew that God’s Word is like a weapon (Ephesians 6:17), and without filling myself with it I had nothing to fight with when I was tempted. So, I started to read my Bible more so that I could use what I read to help me in my situations.
One of the first verses that I found and used was: “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Philippians 2:14 (NLT). Instead of seeing the negative side of a situation, I learned to be thankful and face it with joy. Best of all, I could see that the children were also happier and more thankful when I handled things in this way. I was being an example!
Another verse that helped me was: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT). As a result, I started to think about how I could make it good for those around me and create a good atmosphere in the home for my children.
By living these simple words of God in my everyday situations, and by praying to God for power and help, I started to change. Instead of becoming irritated when things didn’t go my way, I started to learn to be more patient and kind. Instead of being unthankful and seeing everything in a negative and dark way, I started to become more thankful.
I am really changing
Outwardly my life looks very much the same as before. It’s still very busy at home. My children still fight and argue as they did before, and behave as normal children do. There are ups and downs. Some days seem easy while on other days everything seems to go wrong.
I’m still tempted to be impatient and irritated, and when I’m not watchful, sometimes harsh words still come out of my mouth. But I am also much more awake. When those feelings come up, I am much quicker to see them for what they are and say “no” to them before they become words that could hurt others. In that way, what comes out isn’t steered by my feelings or the sin in my nature, but by God’s Word.
This is why a lot has changed. I know this because I have a greater joy and peace in myself. I never want to be the same person as I once was. Through prayer and reading God’s Word much more, I see more clearly where I need to change. I am learning to speak good, kind words where I once would have raised my voice in irritation. I am being thankful where I once would have complained. I am thinking of the others where I once would have only thought of myself. I am being an example to the believers! And best of all, I am truly changing!