Sunday, March 3, 2013

Imperfect Progress

 photo Christmaspictures2012038_zpscbe97090.jpg

Real life in between those smiling snapshots isn't always pretty.  I can admit that.

The scene replays itself over and over again.   I'm in a hurry.  Probably because I've tried to pack too many little tasks into too few minutes.  The kids are non-responsive to most of my questions and commands.  Shoes are lost.  Hair is not brushed.  And neither are teeth.  An arguement over clothes has occured at least 4 times already.  Both are whining every breath.  Beds are unmade.  Lunches are half packed.  We finally head to the car.  One is in full-blown tears, and the other frowning, mumbling something about how he doesn't like me under his breath.  I buckle the carseat while she screams and tells me her dress won't fit between the straps right and her shoes are too tight.  She wants her business, blanket and Cocoa. The other is demanding to have the DVD turned on.  And then we, I mean I, remember we, I mean he, had homework.  We have no letter "Ee" pictures, and I was supposed to provide snacks for the class party.  We are currently 8 minutes late and still sitting in the carport! 

Then it happens.  The Mama meltdown.  Words are said that most certainly don't 'give life' and that can never be taken back at a decibel level that even my deaf family members could here and most definitely the neighbors.  I apologize over and over and eventually find myself in a puddle of tears with both children wrapped in a hug tighter than a Boa Constricter and we finally arrive to our destination an hour later.  I feel guilty all day and wonder how-in-the-world-I'll-ever-learn.

The next day proves I haven't learned.  Same song, different verse.

"I know what it's like to praise God one minute and in the next minute yell and scream at my child."

 It's the ugly and the nasty, but it's the truth.

"I grabbed my purse, slammed the door, and screeched the tires as I angrily peeled out of the driveway on my way to a meeting.  A meeting for which I was now an hour late and in no mood to participate.  It was probably some meeting about being kind to your family...and now it's 2:08 a.m. and I can't sleep. I 'm sad because of the way I acted today.  I'm disappointed in my lack of self-control... I have to figure this out.  What is my problem?  Why can't I seem to control my reactions?  I stuff.  I explode.  And I don't know how to get a handle on this.  But God help me if I don't get a handle on this.  I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear, and frustration.  Is that what I really want?  Do I want my headstone to read, "Well, on the days she was nice she was really nice.  But on the days she wasn't, rest assured, hell hath no fury like the woman who lies beneath the ground right here"?  No.  That's not what I want.  So, at 2:08 a.m., I vow to do better tomorrow.  But better proves elusive,and my vow wears thin in the face of daily annoyances and unpleasant realities.  Tears slip and I'm worn out from trying.  Always trying.  So who says emotions aren't bad? I feel broken.  Unglued, actually.  I have vowed to do better at 2:08 a.m. and 8:14 a.m. ad 3:37 p.m. and 9:49 p.m. and many other minutes in between." ~ Lysa Terkeurst

In her book, Unglued, Lysa writes about four different reactions to our emotions:::
  1. The exploder who shames herself
  2. The exploder who blames others
  3. The stuffer who builds barriers
  4. The stuffer who collects retaliation rocks
I haven't read far enough to give many details on each one, but I can just about tell you which one I am and which one my husband is just by reading the titles.

The one thing I have learned so far is that I'm not alone.  I'm not weird for having these emotions.  In fact, just this week I had this very conversation with my ladies prayer group and we are all in the same boat.  So my question is, "How can I be better?"  How can I make a lasting change?

Perspective.  Changing our perspective on things is crucial according to Lysa Terkeurst.  Perspective doesn't just help us see the current circumstance we're facing from a new vantage point---it also helps me process future things I face in a calmer, more grounded way.

Changing our thought patterns is another huge help.  I did a study by Chip Ingram a few years back called "Good to Great" and he took several days of his study discussing the topic of our thoughts.  It is amazing how much influence on who we actually are is controlled by our thought patterns.  "Renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial.  New thoughts come from new perspectives." 

"I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control." ~ Lysa Terkeurst

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is---his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2

We must take captive our every thought.  It's biblical and it's fitting to the way God designed our brains.

My prayer is that I will be sensitive to His voice in the moment.  In the moment of frustration, I can take captive my thoughts and therefore control my emotions and reactions. 

"The tongue is the only tool that grows sharper with every use." ~ Washington Irving

I haven't got it mastered.  In fact, I'm a long way from it.  But I know God is working.  There is a beautiful reality called imperfect progress. 

"Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace...imperfect progress."



Helene said...

Dear Beth,
I'm a stuffer not an exploder but I need help in the moment too! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I too am an exploder and when I see people who aren't, I wonder how? How do they maintain their sanity in what I feel is a "crisis" situation at the time?! But I do believe God made us each different for a special purpose. Stop putting yourself down so much. As the song says, "he's still workin on me! To make me what I ought to be" I love your raw real honesty. Hard to find. You have a beautiful heart. God bless you and your family.

Judith said...

Yes, and the only way I have found to change is through repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing me through and through and through. I cannot walk this life in my own strength but in His abiding in me. Christ in me, living in me is the only hope I have for change. Calling my imperfections sin and repenting.

I linked up with you over at The Better Mom today. Have a wonderful day!!

Amy said...

I can so relate Beth! Thanks for sharing, always an encouragement!
Amy Bryan

Faith @ Artistic31Mama said...

Beautifully written. I have been reading Lysa's book and our women watched the DVD series at church. Imperfect progress....we all need to remember to change our perspective. The morning you described has been us on so many occasions. I have four kids....a 1st grader, Kindergartener, preschooler and 2 year old. It's tough being a mom, a wife, it's just hard being human sometimes! :-) Thanks for sharing! I'm visiting from the Better Mom link up. :-) I have a post on my blog about Lysa's book as well.