I knew it would eventually happen. One of my worst fears about becoming a mom was the tantrum I felt sure my child would eventually throw. We have all witnessed a child have an all-out meltdown in public. Before Jude was born, I would see this occur and judgmentally ask myself how the parents could allow their child to behave so terribly. After I became a mom, however, I would silently thank God that my child was, at the moment at least, acting “right.”
That dreaded day arrived. While he was in the nursery one Sunday morning at church, my darling 2-year-old demonstrated his uglier, more sinful side by throwing a fit of his own. Of course something didn’t go his way, and he let everyone on his hallway know about it.
When told about his outburst, I had several thoughts and emotions that I didn’t quite know how to process. Thankfully, God’s Word is sufficient in dealing with all of life’s issues, and responding to my child’s temper tantrum definitely fits into that category.
Response Number 1: Embarrassment.
Although embarrassment is a natural response, I knew immediately that it probably shouldn’t be my first response. Having this come out of my heart so quickly and strongly revealed what I was chiefly valuing in that moment: my own reputation as a mother. Jude’s tantrum was making me look bad! Instead of treasuring my own reputation and name, I should be more concerned with treasuring God’s name and His reputation.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
My mothering must be for the glory of God, not my own. I must be more concerned with making Him look good, not myself. Father, forgive me for my pride, and thank you for setting me straight!
Response Number 2: I am failing as a mom.
This one hit me hard. With Jude’s tantrum, I realized I had fallen off track somewhere in my parenting, and I took it very personally. I had to stop myself from dwelling in self-pity long enough to do some evaluating of how I am actually doing in training my son. Philippians 4:8 came to mind.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Just by taking the first “whatever” was helpful in my assessing. What is true? Am I really a failure as a mother? It felt true, but was it? Overall, I realized that no, I am not a failure as a mom, but Jude’s outburst did point out areas in my parenting that I had let slip. I have not been holding the standard for first-time obedience. I have given in to his desires when I could have said no. I have allowed him to have his way when I probably shouldn’t have. So, no, I am not a failure, but I have failed in certain areas.
These failures point me right back to the gospel. I mess up, but God loves me in the middle of my parenting failures (Romans 5:8). Jesus died on the cross for people like me who fail and sin. He took the consequences for that, and then He came back to life. His resurrection tells me there is hope. He is working on these failures in my life to make them victories. Thank you, Father! Help me to dwell on what is actually true about myself. Help me to have more victories in mothering as I cling to You!
Response Number 3: It’s Not Worth It.
My last response was basically despair. I wanted to give up on this parenting thing. Yes, I had let some things slip, but I was still training, loving, correcting and disciplining Jude in lots of areas before his tantrum. If you are a mom, you know how exhausting parenting can be.
After this incident, I was ready to throw in the towel. It felt like all the work I’d put into training him was for nothing. It seemed the pay-off did not justify the effort. Again, God’s Word reminds us of what is true.
“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 5:7-9
I realize I must believe the biblical principle of sowing and reaping. As I mother in the power of the Holy Spirit, I am trusting God to bear fruit in my son’s life. It is by faith that I parent. I cannot see immediate results in Jude’s life, just as planting a garden does not produce results the very next day. But, by faith, I obey God in training up my child (Ephesians 6:4), and trust that He sees my actions of faith and will reward those.
What about you? How have you responded in similar situations? Have you ever labeled yourself in a way that is untrue? What helps you to persevere as a mother?