I’m learning patience today, and it’s not at the hands of my children. I just lost my half-completed post and had to start over. See? God knew my post needed to go in another direction, and He knew I needed more patience. Sometimes He gives us another child, and sometimes He uses other means.
Incidentally, I looked up some Bible verses about patience in preparation for this post and I think I learned something. When somebody in the grocery stores tells you, “Better you than me, because I just don’t have the patience for so many kids,” she probably isn’t talking about being content to wait upon the will of God as He works out His eternal plan for you and the rest of creation. She’s talking about the ability to not explode when the 3yo sends a bowl of cereal flying through the air into the 6yo’s hair because she was horsing around with the 5yo whom you already told to sit down 173 times.
While the Biblical sort of patience certainly helps, I think what we really mean by “patient” is “slow to anger.” We have the following verses posted on our walls:
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. Ecc. 7:9
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but the slow to anger calms a dispute. Pr. 15:18
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Pr. 16:32
Of course well-behaved children are a good start. No child is perfect, and even the well-behaved ones will exhibit immaturity and poor judgment at times, but the simple truth is that it’s easier to be a joyful mother to obedient children than to disobedient ones.
A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. Pr. 10:1
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
let her who bore you rejoice. Pr. 23:24-25
But when life with children isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, so how do you slow down the anger/irritation reflex when things get loud, chaotic, messy, argumentative, smelly, or otherwise unpleasant? Remember this paragraph from my recent post Life with Littles?
God doesn’t give us the grace, or the energy, or the patience we need for the whole upcoming year all in one dose. He measures it out for us day by day, like the manna He gave the Israelites in the wilderness. Planning ahead is good in general, but when the Israelites tried against God’s command to gather enough manna for the following day they found it rotted. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Do your best today. God’s way keeps you coming back to Him. If you start feeling like you can do this all on your own, things are about to go downhill.
We do it one day, one hour, one moment at a time, with lots of prayer. Does it help to get angry when food goes flying? Probably not. Just choke it back this once, and force a smile. Ask God to restrain your anger and unkind words. Help them clean up their messes, and deal with disobedience as necessary.
The next time childishness happens, choke back the irritation once more. Just this once.
And again…and again. If something really epic happens and you feel the urge to get angry, distract yourself: start composing the blog post in your head. Well, it works for me…
With practice, you’ll probably find that irritation is not your automatic reaction, and the smiles come without forcing. This is motherhood, and it’s very much the same whether you have 1 child or 11. You are being sanctified every day, and God is using your children to do His work in you.
The other moms are talking about it too:
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:
- September 8 – Lunches for hubby
- August 4 - Large Family Logistics linky, part 1
- August 11 – Large Family Logistics linky, part 2
- August 18 – Large Family Logistics linky, part 2b
- August 25 – Large Family Logistics linky (appendices)