By Rachel Baker, Crosswalk.com
Late afternoon in my house everything seems to go off the rails. The kids get cranky, start fighting, ultimately our 5-year-old melts down in one giant blood-curdling scream. My hackles go up, my shoulders tighten.
An otherwise lovely day can go up in flames in the matter of minutes. Patience and kindness fly out the window and in comes frustration and shortness. Here comes “mean mom”. Nobody likes her, I don’t like her! But here she is, nonetheless, to bring order to the chaos come what may.
I have friends who seem to handle this frenzy with total calm, they are the grace under pressure, the cool in the chaos, and the epitome of everything I wish I were as a parent. I once asked a friend how she did it, and she laughed, I had misconstrued her outward appearance of calm for internal peace. Oh no, on the inside she was a frustrated and near raging mess. She just concealed it well.
Discovering that I wasn’t the only Mom who occasionally lost her cool took some pressure off, but it doesn’t reduce my desire to handle the trials of motherhood with a bit more grace. I’m assuming you’re right there with me. We all need a little calm and quiet as mothers. I’m learning that in order to have outward calm, we must first have inner calm and quiet.
When the volume in our homes increases, the fighting amongst siblings commences, when we’re having an all-out knock-down drag-out head-to-head with a three-year-old, we’re going to need to dig deep into a well of peace before fighting any of those battles. Where better to start than the Word of God?
When you’re feeling unsettled, disrupted or just plain too loud in your head, here are some helpful scriptures to slow your steps, soften your tongue and quiet your mind.
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1. A Reminder of God’s Restoration
Psalm 23:1-4 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
This beautiful psalm of David gets a near royal treatment. It’s showcased in movies and TV shows, and slapped on bumper stickers. Who wouldn’t want their soul restored? To live a fear-free life? I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to lead a peaceful existence and to experience comfort and restoration, especially as it pertains to parenting.
As a mom, I’ve had more than a few days spent walking “in the valley of the shadow of death.” From the first few months of motherhood as I fought internally with postpartum depression to the recent rough days parenting through the COVID pandemic.
When Motherhood becomes all but overwhelming meditating on God’s word, and this scripture in particular, can quiet our minds and bring peace to otherwise disruptive situations. We can be reminded of God’s restoration of our souls—a restoration that self-help can’t hold a candle too.
God’s restoration is for all people, mothers included. So, when we feel like we’ve failed as Moms, remember that God can redeem our failures and restore our households. When we are struggling for peace in our parenting, we have the choice to shift focus from fear to calm.
Digging into the Word of God is a great starting point.
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2. Discovering God’s Delight in Us
Have you ever quieted your child with your love? It might look like your arms wrapped around your child as they cry.
Maybe it’s rubbing their back or feet before bed, or singing them a lullaby to settled them down. Whatever the physical act of love is, it is ultimately quieting and soothing to our children.
Sometimes, in the busyness of our own parenting experiences we forget that we too are children of God. As grown up as we may be, we still often need the comfort of a parent. Our Father, God, takes absolute delight in his creation, us.
Zephaniah 3:17 states, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Through meditating upon this text we can discover, or rediscover, not only God’s delight in us, but also his desire that we lead a peaceful existence this side of Heaven. To be quieted by God’s love will not only create a sustainable inner calm, but can also pour out into our parenting.
When we are calm, we are better able to provide calm. When we experience a deep wealth of love, we are better able to love. When we revel in knowing that God is rejoicing over us, mistakes and all, we can unabashedly rejoice over our children, even when they press our buttons or push boundaries.
God knows our failures and flaws, and yet calls us worthy. What a perfect example for parenting.
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3. An Invitation to Real Rest
The other day a friend of mine told me just how exhausted she was feeling in her parenting. She felt drained of life and energy. Her once intelligent mind sucked dry, her once capable decision making, weakened and strained.
She verbalized what I had been struggling to articulate. I, like her, have been feeling so tired, sapped of all energy and vitality. Motherhood can do that to you, it can fatigue our minds, bodies, and spirits. Motherhood can test our resolve, our patience, and the fortitude of our minds.
There are some days that I feel completely out of strength; on those days I often return to Matthew 11:28-30, my favorite version from the Message translation: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Sub out the word “religion” for “parenting” and you’ve got me hooked. How many Mommas struggle with the sheer exhaustion of parenting?
We think this fatigue is strictly for new moms, but the reality is that we can experience burnout at almost any stage of parenting. On those days, or in those seasons, Matthew 11:28-30 can be a tender traveling companion and a reminder that not only is it okay to rest as parents, but that God has actually invited all of his creation into rhythms of rest.
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4. Keeping Our Thoughts and Words in Check
On some of my most challenging parenting days, I have to admit that I struggle with my thoughts and words. My mind becomes a battlefield and, occasionally, when left unchecked, whatever thought has been rolling around my head makes its way out of my mouth.
Have you ever been there, a criticism or insult dripping off of your tongue? Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “the tongue has the power of life and death,” our words have meaning.
Before a word ever leaves our lips it first has to roll around in our minds. In our most difficult moments, as Moms, we have the opportunity to practice and model restraint for our children, measuring and monitoring our words is a starting point.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 the apostle Paul writes, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Mommas, this means we get a choice.
God has already instilled the spirit of love and sound mind within us. This is a great tool for us to lean into as we parent. We can process our thoughts and restrain our words, we can give life to our children, rather than break them down.
Now, keep in mind, this is not a path of least resistance. No, checking our thought life takes work and often repentance. I’ve sincerely lost count of the number of times I’ve had to repent for my thoughts! Nonetheless, this is worthy work that will create peace in our parenting and set the tone in our households for our children.
The work of raising children is incredibly beautiful and yet difficult work. None of us know who we are raising, nor do we know the impact that we will have on our communities and the Kingdom through our children.
There are hard days to come, and yet we can remain steadfast, trusting God with the outcome, and resting in his abundant peace. On the hard days, we can cling to God’s word and submit what is difficult to prayer.
Each day we get to take full delight in our children, just as God takes delight in us. Our children are a gift; as we raise them and daily walk them through the refining process, we too are being refined.
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