Bit, rudder, fire. Bit, rudder fire.
I repeated it over and over to myself for days. In the book of James it says;
"A bit in the mouth of the horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem like no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything- or destroy it!
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that..." (James 3:3-6 MSG)
Out of (seemingly) no where I had remembered hearing a very smart woman speak on controlling your tongue. The context was completely different. She wasn't talking about parenting, but God used her words none the less.
Bit, rudder, fire. Bit, rudder, fire.
I had been growing increasingly more and more frustrated with Elliott. It seemed like him and I were always fighting, and it seemed as though it was more than just your average toddler-pushing-back-on-everything-mom-says. The more he pushed back, the firm I became. It doesn't take a psychologist to understand how this would create more tantrums, more tears, more anger.
The very same smart woman had also spoke at my Mom's group a few months ago. The topic? "Mommy Anger" At the time I remember knowing that I was suffering pretty deep in this department, but as I listened, I felt sad. She described how she struggled with anger towards her son and how one day she snapped out of it- realized what she had been doing, and the damage it could cause to her son and their relationship, and so she stopped. I thought of all the times I had surprised myself with my yelling, mean tone of voice, sharp words and rough hands as I placed him in time out, and I wondered what I hadn't yet snapped out of it. I begged God to help me, to end the overwhelming feelings that day, and then I cried hot salty tears the very next day when I caught myself yelling yet again. It had been relieving to hear that I wasn't alone, and that other moms feel overwhelmed by anger as well, but I just didn't know how to change my behaviour. I felt helpless and hopeless.
Bit, rudder, fire.
It circled around in my head enough times that I started to process what God might be trying to say to me. I noticed how often Chris came home from work and was met with my run down of the day- and not much of it was positive. Anytime that Elliott would act out while Chris was home I would exclaim something to the effect of "This kid!" or "I don't know what is wrong with him." And the more that I expressed my anger and frustration, the more angry and frustrated I got.
Thankfully we serve a God who is far from indifferent. He pursues us and is constantly fighting for us. He longs for the moment we turn back to Him and welcomes us with open arms.
Finally one night I used my words for something else. I told Chris how God had been speaking to me about the book of James, and how I needed to try not to speak such negativity over our child and our house. I felt lighter almost instantly. Speaking truth and life over the situation had so much power. The next day was a Saturday, but Chris had to be out of the house for most of the morning. Before he left he asked how my night was the night before. It hadn't been good- Elliott woke up multiple times and I was frustrated and very tired. Instead of "venting", I just brushed it off and said it wasn't too bad. I spent the morning intentionally speaking kindly to and over both kids. I was so amazed at what a peaceful morning we were having that I thought I should message that very smart woman and thank her for how God had used her in my life.
She responded by sharing a bit more of her journey as of late, and admitted she had recently been feeling some shame towards her early years of anger towards her kids. Then she said "Let's just call that out right now and let Jesus speak truth into it. Shame is NOT from Jesus!"
At the time of reading her message I was sitting at the kitchen table as Elliott and Audrey were eating breakfast. That one line hit me so deep inside my heart that I didn't just tear up- I choked back a full on sob. I couldn't even read the rest of what she wrote. I stood up from the table and turned away so Elliott couldn't see me and just cried and cried.
I had been feeling so much shame and hadn't even realized it. It was such a heavy feeling, and I realized that I hadn't even tried taking a step forward, out of the fog. I had been standing there, motionless. Unable to move from the heaviness as though I had weights in my pockets and shoes. The weight lifted in that moment though, and praise God I was able to take a step. And wouldn't you know it? Jesus had been right in front of me the whole time.
I'll be spending a little more time explaining this journey in my upcoming posts. I hope you'll join me.