Even before I longed to become a published author, I wanted to become a stay-home mom. I would daydream about baking cookies with my kids in the kitchen, or reading books to them at night. Laughing with them on a family vacation, or having deep discussions cuddled in bed.
Never did I dream about the arguments, the bickering, the whining, the selfishness, the manipulation for power, the fight for control. Never did I consider the long-lasting effects of post-partum-turned-full depression, the mommy guilt inflicted by myself and society, the internal conflict when disciplining my children.
There are some women who rock the role of “Mom”—at least it looks that way to those watching from a distance. But I think most of us would agree that being a mom is the most taxing job a woman can do. Nothing like having a child hang around to reveal our shortcomings: deficient in patience, abundant in anger. Lacking compassion, teeming with selfishness. Low on self-control, yet driven to control our children.
Suffice it to say, motherhood hasn’t turned out like I thought it would. And now, with my youngest halfway through sixth grade, I stand closer to the point in which my time of being the best influence in my children’s lives will come to an end. Considering I feel like I’ve spent much of that time messing up, it’s a depressing thought.
Where am I going with this? Well, this is actually supposed to be a post of encouragement. Back in November, when I wrote Light in the Darkness, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just talk the talk, but that I walked it, as well. Especially when it came to praying Scripture over me and my family. God had been making it clear He wanted me to work on what I said, how I said it, and tempering my initial emotional responses to different situations, so I took a couple weeks to read through Proverbs and write down any verses that spoke to me about words and tempers. (There are plenty of verses, mind you, but not all of them are applicable to my personal life.)
After jotting down the verses on 3×5 cards, I began to pray through them most mornings. I’m still praying through them. Actually, it’s more like craying through them, because I have yet to get to the third verse before I start crying.
I knew praying these verses wasn’t like saying some magical spell and *poof* my issues would disappear. On the contrary, I knew my challenges and “opportunities” to practice what I was praying would increase, so I was prepared for that. And I figured I’d be able to give you all a report on the positive results and encourage those of you who might be having similar struggles.
But I wasn’t prepared for still feeling like a failure three months later.
I thought surely by now I’d see some improvement. That I’d drop my kids off at the bus stop and come home with a light heart rather than a heavy one. That I’d keep my emotions in check when Hubby and I discussed the budget or vacation plans or politics (we have the same political view, I’m just a fatalist and he’s an idealist, so…). I suppose there are times I keep my mouth shut when I’d rather yell. Times I pause to listen when I’d rather speak. But it’s not often enough.
Okay, so how is this encouraging?
Because maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’re praying Scripture over yourself and/or your family and you’re struggling. Maybe you’re trying to change in one or more areas and you feel you’re not getting anywhere. Maybe you figure this isn’t worth it and you want to give up.
I want to encourage you not to give up. Cuz I’m not giving up. Sometimes we have to dig in and fight over a long period of time in order to win a battle. Clearly, the devil doesn’t like what I’m doing and he’s determined to discourage me any way he can. (Usually that’s when we know we’re onto something good: if we’ve gained the devil’s attention.) But I refuse to pay attention to him this time. I will continue to pray Prov 16:24, that my words would be kind like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (there’s a whole sermon in this one, given all we know today about the amazing properties of honey). I’ll continue to pray James 1:19a, my verse for the year (instead of a word for the year), that I would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. And I’ll keep sharing my progress with you from time to time, even when it’s not going as well (or fast) as I’d like.
My hope is that by this time next year, I will not look, sound, or act like I do today. Not that I’ll have “arrived,” but I trust I will have taken several steps in the right direction. Because I only have a few years left to speak life into my kids; to love on them when they’re unloveable; to “direct them onto the right path, [that] when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Prov 22:6 NLT).
The Christian faith is not easy, contrary to what people outside the faith like to claim, but we’re called to persevere. God will not fail you or me. His words will not fail. And given what the world looks like right now, wrapped in His Word is the perfect place to be for our emotional stability, our sanity, our peace. So keep reading and keep praying. We will see progress eventually.
If you’re curious, here are some of the verses (NLT) that make me cry on a daily basis: 😉
Prov 10:11 The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.
Prov 10:13 Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding.
Prov 10:19 Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (This one makes me smile through my tears.)
Prov 10:21 The words of the godly encourage many.
Prov 10:31 The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice.
Prov 12:16 A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (I add “and incited, and angered, and annoyed…)
Prov 12:18 The words of the wise bring healing.
Prov 15:28a The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.
Prov 18:13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. (How many times I’ve proven this one true! 😦 )
Prov 18:20 Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction.
Prov 19:13b A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.
Prov 20:24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (Guilty!!)