While everyone was celebrating Memorial day, I was stewing with something I didn’t know how to process. My first instinct was to sit down at the computer yesterday and pour my heart out (my usual routine). But, I decided to give it another day and see how I felt. I decided to reflect, and pray, and think about something first before I wrote about it. That’s a miracle in and of itself, people. I’m so glad I did.
You see, I wear my heart on my sleeve most of the time. But, I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that not all people want to see your heart. And, I’ve also learned that when they do, sometimes it hurts them, even though it happens in unintentional ways. As human beings, coexisting with families, friends, spouses, kids….we all hurt each other. But, what I’ve been thinking a little bit about is forgiveness not of others, but of ourselves.
You see, last week, I read the most beautiful post by the Hands Free Mama. I was inspired. I shared it on FB. I had a new resolve to be the best mom in the world. The most patient one. The one that doesn’t speak in harsh tones. The one that can deal with the frustrations of a toddler that just doesn’t want to eat, and an almost 7 year old that takes forever getting ready and tells you all the time that she “didn’t hear” what you had to say. And, I was going to be especially patient with the 4-year-old that is extra sensitive to, well everything. I was going to do all of that from reading one blog post.
A couple of days later I also made the resolve that I would pray more often, and ask God to help me with this goal of mine. I did. And, the very next day, I failed.
So, on memorial day, while celebrating and spending time with family, I was feeling like a downright failure. I had become extremely impatient with my kids that morning while we were getting ready. Then, I yelled at my husband because he was trying to intercede when he saw me getting frustrated. And, I even slammed a door VERY HARD. Like a child. All of this while my three kids were watching.
I threw myself down on my bed in tears and was so angry at myself. Because I had screwed up again. I had failed again! I’m trying so hard, but I’m failing at the one thing I want more than anything. To not be a yeller.
I apologized to my daughter for being impatient. She forgave me. I told my husband my feelings of failure and he forgave me. Yet, I could not forgive myself.
I should be able to overcome this weakness of mine. It is a good desire in my heart. Why can’t I just do it? There is a complicated answer behind that question.
It didn’t help matters that I was talking to a woman in church on Sunday who I had just met and found out that she had 12 children. She never raised her voice at them according to her grown daughter that I was also talking to. NEVER? I wondered. She just said that it just didn’t help anything to yell, so she just didn’t do it. Huh. Well, that’s easy enough…right?
I have known before that overcoming this weakness of mine might take years to achieve. But, the problem is that I want it right now. I don’t feel like years are a luxury I have. I don’t want my kids to remember me as the yeller. I want them to remember me as the one that was always patient. The one that didn’t make them afraid if they screwed up. The one that didn’t have irritation and impatience behind her eyes when they take too long.
And then I read this quote by a church leader named Robert D. Hales:
Um. Yeah. That’s me. I want it right now! I think to myself, “but it’s a good desire God, why won’t you just give it to me?” Oh the irony of my prayer for patience when I don’t want to wait a single second to get it. The truth is, I feel like I’m working hard at it, so I deserve it. But, I know that God doesn’t always give us what we desire right away. And, it’s not really about deserving anything.
I don’t have the answer here. There is no easy trick (at least that I have discovered). I have days where all runs smoothly and I am the most patient mom in the world, and then something underneath will send me into a pattern of impatience and irritation. No matter how much will power I think I possess, I cannot seem to overcome it on those days. I read inspiring blogs and quotes, and I get this resolve that I will do better. And, I do. But, the instant I fail (again), I hate myself for it.
But, the thing I’ve realized is that everyone around me is willing to forgive me, except me.
I think that the patience comes when we are patient with ourselves.
So, that is what I’m working on this week. Patience with me. And, then I hope that patience with everyone else I love will follow.
And, now, I will change my prayer a little. I’m not going to pray for patience to come today or even tomorrow. Instead, I will pray that….
my children will see inside my heart as I learn and grow as their mother.
That they will see my apologies as sincere.
That they will see that I am working on it every single day.
That they will recognize that I am patient a LOT of the time.
That they will remember the times when we laugh, and hug, and say I love you (all of which happen on a daily basis around here) instead of the one time their mommy might throw a fit that could rival any two year old tantrum.
That I can be patient with myself.
And, last…..that it’s for them that I want the gift of patience right now.