We’ve been down this road before. Quite frequently, actually. Despite being an early riser, Drew tends to dawdle around in the mornings, inevitably putting me in a situation I don’t like being in.
You know the one. Where if you respond calmly it doesn’t get the message across but if you react in anger it makes him flip out and he still doesn’t get dressed.
But this morning was different. I recalled a tidbit of the recent Unglued webcast hosted by author Lysa TerKeurst and the K-love DJs. Lysa was talking about this exact situation, and she said that she had to make a decision not to let her child’s behavior determine her emotional reaction. If she did, the child would eventually learn how to manipulate Mommy’s emotions. Of course I’m paraphrasing, but that really stuck with me. Whether purposefully or not, Drew knows exactly how to make Mommy flip out (which leads to an apology from Mommy instead of the discipline that Drew’s behavior needed).
So this morning, as I could feel the rage welling up inside me, I reminded myself: I cannot allow Drew’s behavior to control mine. I must be firm but in control. I must serve up consequences for disobedience and disrespect while maintaining loving control. I can’t speak for tomorrow, but today, I succeeded. Drew’s temper tantrum ended as quickly as it began and he was the sweet child I know within a few minutes. I didn’t even have to tell him to get in the car or buckle his seatbelt. (That’s BIG!)
As I replayed the interaction in my mind today, I realized that this concept shouldn’t be confined to my interactions with my kids but to others as well.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve studied passages (upon passages upon passages!) on self-control in the Bible, I’ve always thought of it as not allowing carnal temptations to overcome me. But think there is more to this.
Perhaps self-control is also not allowing another person’s behavior to control me – to control my behavior, or even to control my emotions.
I found myself practicing my newfound thought today at work, when situation after situation threatened to leave me throwing in the towel and saying, “I’m in over my head! I’m allowed a meltdown regardless of who sees it!”
I can also see this being a challenge for me when I am hurt or when conflict exists within relationships. If I’ve done everything I know to do, to reconcile, then I cannot allow that person or situation to control my behavior or my emotions.
Now, lest you think this is something I think I can do on my own, I’m fully aware that I can’t. Consider one of my favorite passages in Romans 8:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mindis hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (emphasis mine)
If self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, then I have to make a conscious effort to set my mind on the things of the Spirit. And THEN, the Spirit can work through me.
It’s funny how I was teaching Drew self-control a few weeks ago as part of our nightly Bible study, yet I had more to learn myself.