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Memories of Anger or Grace

The other morning, my girls were calling for me frantically.  Go get mommy, one said, and I heard one run outside. Why do kids do that? Run outside in a tizzy?  Anyway, I slowly walked to the front of the house assuming whatever it was couldn’t be too big of a deal.  When I got to the kitchen, I found hot pink OPI nail polish splattered across the floor.  Honestly, I didn’t know a bottle of nail polish could really shatter.  I grabbed several paper towels, wetted them, handed them to Abby and told her to start cleaning. When I found she was doing more smearing than cleaning, I got down in the floor and went to work.

I don’t know about you, but some of the biggest warnings I got growing up were over nail polish and nail polish remover.  I still have a piece of furniture I ruined trying to remove polish from with acetone remover. Brilliant!  My girls have received much instruction over how to deal with such a messy responsibility.  But, at this moment, I had a choice — I could explode and forever leave them with the memory of my anger etched in their minds, or I could teach a lesson.  As I was clearing away the polish and being bludgeoned by a shard of glass, I made a choice.

Girls, we can get angry when something like this happens, or we can make a memory.  Hot pink will probably always be in the pores of this tile and in the grout.  When we see it, we’ll remember the time Abby broke mom’s fingernail polish.  In that moment, that’s what I chose to say.  That’s not my choice in every moment, but I hope it will be more times than not.  (A carpet spill may have sent me through the roof).

In moments of being tested, and child-rearing breeds the greatest, we have to be able to discern what really matters.  Taking an opportunity to teach a lesson has to trump my anger, and my children leaving their imprint on our belongings has to trump materialism.  We’re making memories with our kids every day, rest assured.  But the question we have to ask is whether we are leaving them with memories of anger or grace.

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46 Comments Post a comment
  1. Isn’t it incredible how we can shape a moment simply by our reaction to it? Beautiful post, Suzanne. Well done!

    September 5, 2011
    • Thank you, Larry. I’m very thankful for grace and deep breaths.

      September 5, 2011
  2. Karen Rehkopf #

    I felt a sense of relief when I read the response you chose to give, so I am sure Abby’s relief was immeasurable at that moment. What a great lesson in so many ways!

    September 5, 2011
    • Karen, Knowing your personality, I’m sure it did bring relief. So, just know that for my children, it did the same — relief came according to personality. 🙂

      September 5, 2011
  3. Nice reminder, Suzanne. I pray my son’s memories will be more of grace and NOT anger. Stuff is just stuff and accidents happen. What a great moment to show God’s grace to your kids.

    September 6, 2011
    • Thanks. It’s so hard in the moment to not give in — either to anger or making them leave the room so I can “fix” things. It’s a conscious effort to bring them into the grace of the moment.

      September 6, 2011
  4. Ugh. You’re so right. My son is suddenly in his Terrible Threes (even though he won’t be three until November), and I’m dealing with being sick, so my temper is really short. I feel horrible every time I let loose on him, and today I even made him cry I yelled so loud! I’m not generally a yeller. I’m pretty good with the kid. But lately it’s just been—awful. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

    September 9, 2011
    • Rachel, I yelled at my 5 year old and made him cry last week. I can relate. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully, we will respond with grace More.

      September 9, 2011
  5. Tiffany #

    Well, I’m failing this miserably but this post is a great reminder to me for what I should be doing instead of yelling.
    Thanks!!

    September 9, 2011
    • Tiffany, the good thing is there is grace for us, too, and these kiddos always give us more chances. That’s why we have each other — to keep reminding.

      September 9, 2011
  6. Pam #

    Grace is the key, but shamefully one I often forget to use to unlock the hearts of my children. This post is a beautiful reminder : )

    September 9, 2011
    • Thanks, Pam. Good word — unlocking their hearts — hoping they’ll continue to come to us.

      September 9, 2011
  7. Cynthia #

    I found the link to your blog on Proverbs 31 Ministries. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for the reminder that we make choices and those choices can have long reaching effects!

    September 9, 2011
    • Thanks for reading, Cynthia. You’re right. They do have long reaching effects. I usually have to take a deep breathe before making that choice. It can be difficult in the moment.

      September 9, 2011
  8. Amen, sister, Amen

    September 9, 2011
  9. Gina #

    The reaction of anger has been a very hot topic in the last few weeks between my husband and I. Thank you for a new perspective that will be on our minds during future “mishaps”.

    September 9, 2011
    • Anger is tough, Gina. I usually want to deny it exists in me. I hope we can all keep it at the forefront of our minds and continually be repentant. Thanks.

      September 9, 2011
  10. Andrea #

    I’ve always tried to remember that there’s no use crying over spilled milk (me or them). I know they already feel bad, I don’t need to make them feel worse. But I’ve definitely had my meltdowns and failures. Thanks for reminding us that in every reaction we have we are making memories. I really want most of them to be good for them and me!

    September 9, 2011
    • I agree, Andrea. It’s hard when I know they already feel bad, but that doesn’t always keep me from exploding. And, this is key, “I really want most of them to be good for them and me!” Thanks.

      September 9, 2011
  11. Oh how I desire to respond that way…..but sometimes I just don’t. Then I hate myself for it. Then I try harder….and sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. PRAY for God to continue to work on my in this department!!!

    September 9, 2011
    • Dawn, I struggle with the same thing, but isn’t it reassuring to know the work has already been done for us on the cross? Knowing there is no condemnation keeps me from falling apart. And, I will pray for you.

      September 9, 2011
  12. gina simard #

    thank-you so much….timely i decided to read it b4 going to bed. a similar incident happen to me with my grandaughter they have been with me since last november. and the story goes the lord told me to put the powder away he warned me. yeah you guess the rest. i actually decided to put it somewhere else still havig in the back of my mind put it away. and i got mad and was not nice. my heart is aching ill try to explain it was my falut tomorrow and not hers. i told her nothing but sent her to bed cause it was her time and did not cover this. i have to wait until tomorrow. i cant wait thank-you. wouldnt it make days much easier if we did not care about our stuff when these things happen.still caring like taking care to ake it last so we dont spend money on new every so many years. but not care these are prints of a childhood.

    September 9, 2011
    • So sweet, Gina, that you have an opportunity to show grace tomorrow. Thank you for sharing.

      September 9, 2011
  13. I grew up in a home where explosion was 99% of the answer and always a spanking followed. I swore I’d be different but it’s hard not to respond that way when I know nothing else. I always feel like I fail miserably in one way or another and have no business being a mom but I just keep trying again and again. One way I go about it is to circumvent possible problems before they happen by not having expensive items in my home until they are much older and always making sure stuff that would cause that reaction is way up! I’m loosing it everyday with my 10 yr old and the other 3 all have their issues too but I’m trying. Thanks for the reminder. Now everytime I see my hot pink fingernail polish I will remember to respond with grace. Maybe I should just paint my nails that color evryday to remind me 😀

    September 9, 2011
    • What a great idea, Kristen — to paint pink every day! It is difficult to break cycles. Knowing that our identity is in Christ and not what has happened to us in the past, nor our mistakes or failures is what frees me up to be a mom every day. I hope it will you, too. We do fail miserably, but when our righteousness is found in him, we can even find grace in our failure — boy, do I have to preach that to myself over and over. Thanks for your transparency.

      September 9, 2011
      • I’m thinking I really am going to do it, at least give it a try. You have no idea the cycles and generational curses I’ve had to break. It’s been so hard the battles I fight daily in my head and a year ago i got drafted to being a pastor’s wife . Still trying to figure out if that’s a good or bad thing sometimes LOL It’s hard for sure. I feel so completly lost sometimes with one nostril above water and not seeing how I’m going to make it and sometimes wondering why I keep trying. I just remind myself how far I’ve come (most of it being in the last 2 decades from teen+) and all the struggles I’ve overcome and try to remember who I’m doing all this for and maybe just maybe I’ll make it out on the other side 🙂 I like your blog and looks like a lot of things I need to read. I’m glad to have found you.

        September 9, 2011
      • Thanks, Kristen. It’s encouraging to hear how God has worked in your life, but it will be a struggle for all of us as long as we are on this earth. Some days we do wonder how we will make it, but we hold on to our hope. I greatly appreciate your comments.

        September 9, 2011
  14. Donna Griffin #

    So glad you shared this, it really makes you stop and think about how you do react to your children and what kind of lasting impression you will make on their minds. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, much needed. God Bless.

    September 9, 2011
    • Thanks, Donna. I’m challenged to stop and think with an encounter with them every day. I’m sure I’ll be met with a new challenge tomorrow.

      September 9, 2011
  15. Lynn #

    Great post! I have a 16 and 12 yr olds and I try to do this too. This brought back a memory from last year when our daughter lost her class ring and only told us when we questioned her about it. It was 2 months later from when she lost it. I was very upset because 1. it was a gift and 2. I had told her she shouldn’t wear it on the missions trip but she begged me and I relented. At the moment I found out all I could say to her was “go” and point to the door(she had to leave for driver’s ed). The thoughts in my head would have ruined her spirit and the wonderful relationship I have with her if I would have spoken them. She told me later that by me saying nothing was harder on her than if I would have yelled at her. If only she would have known what I was thinking she wouldn’t have said that.

    September 9, 2011
    • So true, Lynn “the thoughts in my head would have ruined her spirit.” My mouth can be brutal, and it’s usually best for me to choose to speak later. Thanks for the story.

      September 9, 2011
  16. Wow….I so needed this today! In the chaos of this week, I found myself drowning in recovering from vacation last week, caring for a sick child & preparing to start our new homeschool year next week – all on top of all of the normal craziness we have! I found myself being impatient with my boys often (immediately regretting my choice of attitude and words). The Lord pierced my heart when I apologized (for losing my temper and not acting out of love) to my 6 year old and asked him to forgive me and he said, “Mommy, it’s OK, I forgive you – I love you!” and smiled a huge smile……I pray that I will choose grace more and give the Lord control of my words. Psalm 141:3 – “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the doors of my lips.”

    September 9, 2011
    • Thank you, Christy, for this great word. I love how kids respond with such forgiveness. It’s very humbling. I’m so glad that I’m given so many chances to keep trying no matter how many times I get it wrong.

      September 9, 2011
  17. Lui #

    Thank you for sharing Suzanne. I know it is not easy. But as parent we ought to live by example for our children. Having two boys, I learned how to make lots of deep breathes before I respond to some of their mess. Just like you there are times I show them the how and why and the impact of their mess. However, there are moments too that my fumes goes on top of the roof, depending on the day of the month. My boys like my hubby had learned to look on my calendar and they pretty much can gauge my reaction. As I grow older, I’m becoming to be more patient than when I was younger. I think the principle of practice makes perfect turns good for me. Anyway, thank you again for sharing and this message had really left a good reminder in my brain. God bless

    September 9, 2011
    • Lui, you’re right, there is another side to this story — sometimes we do “show them the how and why and the impact of their mess.” That is included in the rebuke/memory as well. Thanks.

      September 10, 2011
  18. Dawn #

    What a wonderful reminder — that our reactions cause memories for our children. Not to mention the example they set for our very impressionable children. I often hear my grandmother say, “It’s just a thing” meaning the person is more important than whatever has been damaged. I like the idea of painting the nails pink as a reminder to have righteous reactions!

    September 10, 2011
    • I liked that, too, Dawn. Very cute. They are just “things.” Unfortunately, sometimes we value them more than people. At the same time, I know I have to teach my kids to take care of their things, so it’s hard to know where to fall sometimes. Except that we can always fall on grace, right?

      September 10, 2011
  19. Good post. Thanks. I grew up with anger at every step I made (from my father). It took its toll on me for 49 years. Finally 13 years ago, through some horrible experiences, I began to deal with my own anger toward my father (who died in 1991). I dealt with anger toward my children. As I spoke with them, while I remembered my anger, they often did not. Now with teenage grand kids and younger ones, I have learned that the marks of past anger have become signs of God’s forgiveness and restoration of relationships.

    May God bless you and Chris in your walk of faith. Thanks for these important words.

    Rich

    September 20, 2011
    • Rich, Thank you for your encouraging words. I am grateful to hear of forgiveness and restoration. May your experiences help bring healing to many.

      September 20, 2011
  20. grace #

    Hi Suzanne,
    I am sure when she is grown and gone and she comes home to see you, she will look for the stain in the tile and tell her own children… “Well, that tile holds a story, from my childhood, do you want to hear about it?” So others will have a chance to be blessed as well!
    That is a sweet memory you just built and it will never loose the power to bless. Thank you for sharing!
    🙂

    September 26, 2011
  21. Oh, God bless Larry Hehn for leading me here, to read this. I needed it – this reminder that I wield great power in the lives – and the memories – of my children.

    Thank you.

    October 1, 2011
  22. Well done. I love it when Jesus… wisdom… grace… comes out on top.

    October 31, 2011

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