Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Did I ever tell you about my besetting sin?

I know...sort of misleading title, heh? Makes it sound as though I only have one. Boy, if THAT were only true!

Ever heard the phrase do as I say, not as I do?

That is a large sum of who and what I am. I know the path to take in my life. I know what works and I know what doesn't. I know what is right and what is far from it. I know how to walk, yet I tend to run most often. Running can get sloppy.

Besetting Sin #1 (and trust me, these are in no particular order...)
I know children thrive under routine, schedule and the sense of comfort in that knowing what will come next sort of routine. I have seen it work absolutely perfectly here in our family. I know that a particularly strict routine/schedule works the best for Wild Child. Planning in as few unstructured moments as possible produce the best results for him especially. I know this to be a hard core fact.

Yet there are far more days of a total freestyle movement going on here than ever. And the chaos of misery is the fruit of it. Stress, frustration and flat out exhaustion is the result :o( I have been a mother for nearly 23 years now. I have been a stay-at-home mom for most of those years (I think all totaled, I've worked about 8 years since having children). I have been a homeschool mom for 12 of those years....full-time, anyway. Even while eldest was in the public arena we still supplemented everything he did there with learning at home as well. I am not blind. I have lived and walked my life every day looking at the same failures and the same successes. I know what works here and I know what doesn't yet I still make the same mistakes over and over again.

That might be called something else in your family, but around here, it's just plain stupidity. I have posted how many times over the years of blogging I've had about making stupid mistakes....let's not go back and count. It's a lot. Trust me. There aren't enough fingers and toes on all of us collectively to even dent the surface of that count! If you know something doesn't work, stop doing it. How stupid is it to continually make the same mistakes? It's pretty high ranking ignorance. I know. I do it alot.

Besetting Sin #2
I get frustrated far too easily. I throw a fit when I do and I get loud. Yeah, that sounds a little nicer than it really is. It's called lack of control. I'm a Grade A, certified and registered Type A Personality. I don't like feeling I have no control over things. Anything. Makes little difference what it is. It's a horrible thing, control is. It's a very difficult thing to overcome. My brain knows I have this trouble. My heart knows I have this trouble. My brain even knows what to do to deal with it. Let Go. I have no real control. I'm not God. Real control is His, and His Alone. No amount of my effort on my part is going to give me control on any level. Throwing a fit isn't going to get me control...it actually takes even more control away from me. Getting loud certainly isn't giving me any form of control.

In all truth, I'm pushing any resemblence of control out of my life with this immature behavior.

And I know this. I know this to be the total truth.

Yet, here I sit, just about daily, holding hands and making friends with lack of control and frustration. My emotions reign and control laughs. It's the same as the last sin, really. It's utter stupidity to allow what I know to be harmful rule my spirit so much.

Granted, I have come a bit of ways in this particular sin area. I haven't come nearly far enough for the length of time I've truly been aware of my sin in this area, but any progress is a good thing. I just need to make better progress. I need to step out of God's Way and let Him get back in the lead.

There are more of these Besetting Sins I could share, but for me, I truly believe these are the top 2 I deal with. If just one was under the proper control, life would be so much more smooth around here. Quiet, peaceful, and smooth-running.

I breed chaos by my own actions. That, in turn, breeds even more chaos. I may not be growing much in my garden mud puddle this year, but unfortunately I am cultivating a serious crop of weeds inside the homestead on a regular basis.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Let go of the belief that you have control of anything. The only real control you have in your life is what The Lord gives you daily when you take those moments to visit with Him and get (and follow) His advice.

Stop running in a freestyle motion with parenting. Your children suffer for it, you suffer for it. It's just not a good thing for anyone involved. If you homeschool you have to find a routine that truly fits your children's needs. I have a Wild Child. He suffers (and we all follow directly behind him) if he is left to his own devices and not guided. The others tend to suffer the effects of a lack of schedule and routine as well. It works. It really does work. It takes some time to find that routine that is a right fit, but it's worth the effort. If you aren't willing to put in the effort, put the children back in the public arena. As much as I truly disagree with that 'arena' out there, it is slightly better than walking freestyle and allowing everyone to suffer for it.

Wait -- I made a mistake. We do have control in something. You make decisions every minute of your day. If you choose to wander with your eyes closed, that is a decision. Don't make that one. Make a better one. Make the decision to do what you have to and to do it the right way. There isn't a gray area there...the right way is the right way. It's not subjective and it's not able to be translated differently for different folks. Right is right. Period.

Here's a post from my other blog a year or so ago. Good stuff. Read it. Post it in your house. Remember it. Find the nuggets you can use in it and actually use them. And come back later to remind me that I still need lots of work on them myself!

"The Shocking Truth — I Pushed Jesus!"
by Barbara Smith

Can we talk about "yelling?"

Yelling is a problem in lots of Christian homes. (How's THAT for a generalization?) Well, it was in mine, anyway! I resorted to hollering to try to recapture what I thought was clearly out-of-control. Roaring, like a hungry lion, and greedy to have what God was withholding, I blustered, meaning to scare people into doing what *I* wanted them to do. So, I yelled; letting the ones entrusted to my care know that I "let loose" before I let God restrain my frustration. What has come out of my mouth when I yelled proved to any who was within range, that Christ was not ruling me. I am not proud of this. Yet if repeating what a mess I made, helps you to put aside verbal assaults in your home, then I am willing to tell you what not to do.

As Surely as if I Had Pushed Him . . .
From the moment that anger flashes through my soul, exploding out of my mouth, I am shoving the Savior off HIS rightful throne, telling Him to "Take a back seat. I'm gonna deal with this!" (Read Matt 15:11) Whether it was discovering an undone chore or lessons, braving adolescent sassing, contending with inoperative appliances or coping with my own aching body, too many occasions became an excuse for letting anger flash out on my tongue. For years I lost battles to angry outbursts, until my husband intervened and got my attention. After one truly unfortunate exchange between my dear child and me, my husband made each of us separate and read Scripture:
"And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, {the blood} of Christ. (1 Pet 1:17-19)
This was almost seven years ago. Almost five years before this humbling experience, I heard a familiar chorus: "I love you, Lord and I lift my voice . . . Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear." Believe me, the Lord Jesus has gotten a royal ear-full from my mouth! And He has not treated me as my sins deserved. However, the Lord is not through with me yet, and He is not through with you, either. Here are some concrete principles you can put into practice to lower the volume in your home.

Overcoming Outbursts
"Venting" your emotions is the first step to ruin! (Prov. 13:3)
By guarding your mouth, you preserve life — yours and theirs. Remembering my child's little face, startled, frightened and tear-streaked, and seeing the stunned looked in my husband's kind eyes, are self-inflicted thorns that I must trust God to use for HIS glory. I failed here so often — and had to learn so many BITTER lessons because I yelled. Stuff a sock in your mouth, if you have to, before you yell at the children or the husband God gave you! Yelling becomes a deadly pattern of emotional responses that the enemy will use against us, perhaps even deafening our little one's hearts to hear the Savior for an unnecessary season. (Prov. 18:7) It isn't that God cannot or will not overcome the enemy. However, by indulging our tempers by yelling, we give valuable ground to the enemy.
God has an opinion on your predicament.
God knew the dimension of the problem of angry outbursts, for we can see a bit of HIS heart, when we search for the words "mouth" or "tongue." He formed the mouth so that we might be like Him, and speak. (Exod. 4:11)
He warned us to be on our guard — lest the mention of false gods is heard from our mouth. (Exod. 23:13) When we yell, we are not proclaiming God's praise, but heralding our capitulation to the idols of our souls. When we holler we make a sad choice, not to restrain our souls. We speak, therefore, in the anguishing, complaining bitterness. (Job 7:11)
Choose whom you will serve: God or self.
On any given day — facing anything from a sticky kitchen floor, soggy bath towels, a dented fender or a deficit bank balance, we always have a choice: we can strengthen those we love with our mouths. With the solace of our lips, we can lessen their pain. (Job 16:5) We can speak with wisdom or understanding. (Ps 49:3) When things go wrong in my home (that is when "I" am not getting "my" way) I *could* let the overflow of my words be filled with praise. Praise that God has allowed the rough patches? Exactly! When appliances break, or when the lessons go slowly; when the money dries up and the health fails; or if the kids get cheeky — choose to praise God. Believe that He will use my disappointments and griefs for His glory, *all day long.* (Ps 71:Cool The psalmist made a choice. That was to tell of God's righteousness — and His salvation. Surely *that* choice would be a more delightful recitation to my family's ears than an angry spewing of troubles. (Ps 71:15)
Yet, I have ignored the comfort of my children and my husband and even my elderly mom, I am sorry to report. Why? Because MY comfort zone was breached with the common little consequences of the Fall. (As in Eden) On too many occasions, I chose not to utter TRUTH, but to entertain wickedness with my lips -- loudly. (Prov. 8:7-Cool I blew through some major teaching occasions because I chose to yell. How many more problems did I engender because I would not lower the volume to discuss critical problems? (Prov. 21:23)

Remember, quashing rebellion is not *your* problem!
Am I saying we should become milk-toast mushy and spineless in the face of provocation? NO! When the kids are resisting instruction, it is a spiritual problem — and yelling is not the solution. Our lungs are not big enough to holler away rebellion!

Kids' hearts can harden when their parents keep the volume of their frustration loud, and parents can miss hearing God's quiet voice. If we follow our Father's example, growing quiet in the face of opposition, often we can head off disaster by asking God to show US what to do. So, if angry outbursts of frustrations are wrong from the kids, they are wrong from the adults — period.

Keep your eyes open -- and ask for help!
It is not the frustration we have to avoid but we must allow God to transform our responses to it. We will not do this in our own strength; none of us can restrain this amazing little muscle that God gave so that we might be in HIS image!
My husband's prayers truly helped — so, please, ask for help.
Proverbs — the book of WISDOM — says the godly woman is one upon whose lips is the teaching of kindness; for "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Prov. 15:1-2)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.
Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012


The Cottage Comtesse said...

Thank you so much for submitting this post in all humility for everyone's benefit. While I am not typically a "yeller", I suffer from outward displays of frustration and disgust when things don't go like I think they should. I, too, have been able to improve with Christ's help, but I desire to go so much further. In fact, the Lord and I were having a little chat just this weekend about this very topic! The root sin is selfishness, lack of self-control, lack of trust, and worshiping the idol of ease (at least for me, anyway).

One thought that has really helped me a lot is to remember that I will accomplish everything that GOD WANTS me to accomplish today, and I can be satisfied with that; knowing I have done what HE wanted me to do. Even if things "seem to go wrong", I can relax knowing that my soverign Lord has allowed certain things into our family life for our benefit. And on my part, I am being wiser about not overbooking myself; something that has taken me 25 years of marriage to figure out!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post today. You spoke directly to my heart as I struggle with many of these same issues. Sometimes I think I'm the only one having difficulties in these areas. It seems easy to think everyone else has the perfect family while I still struggle to get my act together. It's actually refreshing and comforting to learn that I'm not a lone duck.

In spite of these daily struggles, I do so often see reminders that God is in control every minute of every day and it is that thought that I try to keep my mind on. God is good, more than good, and he is in, and cares about, every detail of our life and our day.

Angie said...

Thanks for your post. I have been thinking about those same 2 sins in the past few days. They are my top besetting sins also. I've been struggling with my 1 yr olds behavior and it seems that it is the same freestyle routine you talk about that is to blame. I struggle with routine and it's no wonder - I was raised without one. I have to stop that cycle! Thanks for the encouragement!!!

Ace said...

CONVICTED TO THE BONE! This is EXACTLY what I went to bed crying and praying about last night. I didn't know what to do because no one in real life shares their mistakes. Thank you Sister, thank you so much. God has used you to speak to me and change the way I raise my Children and Love them and my Husband. Thank you.

This, I pray, will echo for generation.

Thank you and PRAISE THE LORD.

I am going to print this out.

Many Blessings :)

*~*Nicole*~* said...

I love your blog!!! Just started reading and this post is PERFECT! I think you and I would be fast friends :) Just wanted to say Hello...and hope you have a wonderful, relaxing, peaceful day.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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