Nobody would have pegged me for a yeller.
Actually, I wouldn’t have guessed it either. Maybe my memory is faulty, but I don’t remember ever having shouted before – except maybe at a college football game or catching a friend’s attention across the parking lot.
Other than that, I’d say I’m a fairly soft-spoken person.
But something seemed to have happened once I had small children. Yeah, it’s like something snapped!
I became a yeller.
A yeller? Me??
At first I blamed it on all kinds of things. Hormones. Stress. Sleep-deprivation.
But after a while, I had to face up to the facts. No matter what the cause, I’d turned into a yelling mom.
And I hated it and wanted to change.
I cried out to God to miraculously overcome this awful struggle, secretly hoping for some kind of instantaneous healing. But it turned out to be more of a journey – by His grace, in His strength, and with a lot of determined effort on my part.
My Journey to a Quieter, Calmer Mom
One of the first steps of my journey was to start an anger journal. I wrote down each time I lost my cool. I recorded the time of the day, the setting, the person, and the circumstance – much like you would in a food journal. Then I looked for patterns. When did I most often lose it? Under what conditions?
I tried to identify the specific situations I could do something about. For instance, I often unraveled in the late morning and much of it was due to being HUNGRY. A mid-morning snack went a long way toward that trouble. Also, I found that taking a short nap after lunch helped me better handle our afternoons. Setting up a basic routine with our young ones reduced the general chaos which made it a bit easier on my nerves too.
Now those were some problems I could address. But what about those things that I couldn’t control or anticipate? Spilled cereal bowls. Poopy diapers. Arguing children. Seemingly incessant demands on my time and body all day long. Yes, what about those?
Unknowingly, I’d always orchestrated my life around what I wanted out of the day. As a single woman, I’d set out goals for myself and then I accomplished them. But my life changed dramatically when I had children. It was no longer all about me and what I thought a day should look like.
So a change was needed – a change in my perspective. It wasn’t merely about what I wanted anymore. My goals. My purposes. My life.
My question needed to be, “Lord, what do You have for us today?”
What if He wanted me to learn “serving” by cleaning up one spill after another that morning? Then I could view the disaster as more of “an opportunity” than a “trial”.
What if our children ruined our trip to the library because of all their bickering? Hmm…looks like The Lord wants us to learn more about loving each other than about reptiles and kangaroos.
When I began looking at our day in this light, that “snappish” feeling wasn’t nearly so strong. And, even if it was one of those terribly trying times, I could ask, “Please, Lord, help me to see what You want for us here?”
While this was a slow, and sometimes painful, process, I eventually got better.
Quieter and calmer.
How to Overcome
And if you happen to be on just such a journey? Here’s what I’d say:
- Don’t listen to the Enemy that you can’t change. Because you can.
- Don’t be overly hard on yourself if you mess up. Simply start anew the next day. Or even the very next moment. (On occasion, I’d stop mid-yell…then say aloud, “Nope. I want to try that again.”)
- Don’t attempt to overcome this in your own strength. Rather in Christ (Phil. 4:13).
- Do ask for support and prayer from people who love you. While rather humbling, I’m thankful for a couple of close friends and a husband who stood with me on this one.
So, yes, by God’s grace I’m no longer a yeller.
Well, unless my kids do something really wonderful, that is. Then you’ll hear me shouting as loudly as the next mom.
Yelling and cheering.
And I’ll be cheering for you too.
In His grace,
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