“Mommy, why are you stirring up anger?” my precious four year old asked me with tears still in her eyes.
Earlier in that evening she had had a melt down over something that I viewed to be small and insignificant. In typical, irritate fashion, I snapped at her and sent her to her room. I simply didn’t want to deal with my tired, emotional, and oh-so-fragile daughter. I was wore-out, the day had been long, and I just wanted to go to bed myself.
My relationship with my children teaches me so much about my relationship with my heavenly Father. Not because I can emulate His great parenting skills so well, but because I fall short over and over again.
My daughter was quoting our family memory verse for the week. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). I had chosen this verse because my children (and myself if I’m being honest) had been having a hard time getting along. Bickering, arguing, snapping at one another, and tattle-telling seemed to have had become a regular occurrence in our home.
“Mommy, why are you stirring up anger?” Those words — my heart leaped for joy, yes! she gets it! and then my heart fell because oh, I get it. Me and my harsh words aren’t escaping the notice of my children.
God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11) and though I was attempting to use it to manipulate my children — trying to get them to behave better, do better, be better — God was using it to gently correct and discipline me.
I have read and recited that verse many times, not because I thought I needed to hear it, but because I thought someone else did. But that night, hearing God’s word spoken from my sweet child’s lips, the Holy Spirit got my attention. It was as if He had asked me directly Himself, “Kelli, my child, why are you stirring up anger?”
When He asks me questions like this, so gently, so softly, it’s not because He doesn’t already know the answer, it’s because I don’t. He ask because He wants me to see my own sin, how ugly it is, how it affects me and those around me, but most importantly how it separates me from Him.
So why am I stirring up anger?
I’m stirring up anger, Lord, because I’m irritated, I’m selfish, I’m lazy, I’m choosing sin, I’m not concerned with glorifying You at the moment. Harsh words that stir up anger are quicker and easier in the moment and take very little thought or effort and I want an easy solution. I’m stirring up anger because I’ve let this become all about me and not at all about You or even my daughter or her needs.
I didn’t come up with this answer all on my own. It took prayer. It took time in the Word. It took repentance. It took the leading and prompting of a patient and gently Heavenly Father. A Father who doesn’t send me to my room when I throw my tantrums, but one who is there all the while trying to comfort me. A Father who doesn’t snap or shout or get grouchy, but one who speaks softly and disciplines out of love. A Father who doesn’t get tired, doesn’t give up, doesn’t looses control, but waits for me with a steadfastness that shows how He truly adores me — and not just me, but you, too.
That night I hugged my daughter and asked her to forgive me. Then we prayed. We asked God to forgive both of us for our harsh words and thanked Him for being the parent to us that only He can be.