“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)
Self-control is one of the most difficult things to learn in life. If not taught early, it can be extremely hard to train yourself when you get older. It is one area where I have struggled in my adult life.
Over the past few years I have discovered that I have adrenal fatigue. Now at first I hadn't ever heard of the adrenals. These are little glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They control something that everyone has heard of – adrenaline. They produce that 'fight or flight' response we have to stress. When your adrenals are worn out from too much caffeine and sugar (I was a Mountain Dew addict in high school), then you feel stressed all the time.
So for years I fought this stressed out feeling. I'd cry over losing control as a parent. I'm very ashamed of how I treated my children. I never beat them or injured them physically, but I see my attitudes reflected in theirs. Discovering that I have adrenal fatigue is not an excuse. I am now very much aware of how I treat my body. I take vitamins to feed my adrenals and I watch the caffeine in my diet (and yes, that means less chocolate :( ). Also, getting the proper amount of sleep is important for me.
But let me tell you the benefits! My actions are so much easier to control. I get less angry with the kids. They have even told me how thankful they are that I have days – a few long stretches of days even – where I don't yell. I speak softer and kinder. I have more – dare I say it? - patience even.
If you have this type of problem, I urge you to research it and learn the symptoms and how to control it. I am so much more at peace with myself knowing that I can control my own behavior!
Lately I have been watching 19 Kids and Counting and I'm learning much from their parenting style. Michelle Duggar speaks so softly and kindly to her children. This is the kind of behavior I want to model as a mother. Jim Bob Duggar also said something along the lines of: “Anger destroys relationships. I don't want to become angry with my children because it would destroy our relationship with each other.” (not a direct quote – but you get the idea) Being angry with our children is not a good thing.
I can remember when I was training my son that after worship (this was one of the most stressful times for me) I would gripe and complain to any mother nearby about his behavior. I'd have a list of things my 3-5 year old had done during worship! It occurred to me that I needed to train him, discipline him if necessary and then let it all go. I was holding this 'record of wrongs' against him and it was wrong. Because I wanted him to act perfect, I made worship an unhappy place for both of us.
It was coming face to face with the fact that I am imperfect that made me realize: How could I expect my child to be perfect? It is impossible. I had to learn to let go of a lot of things in order to be the mother God wants me to be. Am I that mother yet? Not at all! But I hope I can pass on a few things I have learned to help other struggling mothers.
Let me leave you with some verses along these lines:
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Proverbs 16:32, KJV)
“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21)
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” (James 1:26)
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:16-17)
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,” (Titus 2:4)