I lost my patience while homeschooling last week. It was one of those moments when I got frustrated about my daughter’s math again. I am ashamed to admit that this wasn’t the first time. If you have followed this blog, you know that my irritation was sparked before, in a very horrid way, over math with this same daughter.
Although she has made great strides in the last year, for some reason, she blanked out when we reviewed rounding numbers to the nearest tenth and hundreds place (something we had been covering for the last two weeks).
My husband, Edric, came to my rescue. He listened to how distressed I was as I explained to him what happened. Of course, he wasn’t happy with the way I responded and corrected me, which I received. He was right. I had to apologize to my daughter and humble myself to ask for her forgiveness. When he sought her out, she was curled up on her bed, tearing.
The image of her in this position, trying to process her hurt made me feel like I was a bad mom. And I was! There was no other way to put it. I treated her unkindly by mouthing out negative comments, by contorting my facial expressions to signify disappointment, by leaving her in exasperation to go to my room because I needed to have a “time-out” to avoid an outburst. Even without shouting, the damage was enough to inflict emotional pain on her. She felt inferior and incapable.
To help me out, and to minister to our daughter, Edric took over her math lesson very patiently and ably. She actually had fun. She also remembered the concepts better with him because he approached these in a relax and non-threatening manner, components that I lacked when I was overcome by my irritation.
Whenever I make the mistake of getting upset with my kids about their homeschool work, it’s discouraging. I wonder if I will damage them emotionally (and spiritually), if my reactiveness will affect their ability to progress in a positive way as the try to learn new concepts and skills. And the answer is, yes, of course! Anger will damage my kids…anger that happens repeatedly and frequently. So I can’t let my carnal self take over. Sure, there will be moments when I get upset, but these CANNOT EVER BE HABITUAL if they happen at all.
In a book I’m presently reading called Awe by Paul David Tripp, he writes, “At a deep and often unnoticed level, sin replaces worship of God with worship of self. It replaces submission with self-rule. It replaces gratitude with demands for more. It replaces faith with self-reliance. It replaces daily joy with horizontal envy. It replaces a rest in God’s sovereignty with a quest for personal control. We live for our glory. We set up our rules. We ask others to serve our agenda. We curse whatever gets in our way. We hate having to wait. We get upset when we have to go without. We strike back when we think we have been wronged. We do all we can to satisfy our cravings. We think too much about our own pleasure. We envy those who have what we think we deserve. We pout when we think we have been overlooked. We hate suffering of any kind. We manipulate others for our own good. We are obsessed about what is best for us. We demand more than we serve, and we take more than we give. We long to be first and hate being last. We are all too concerned with being right, being noticed, and being affirmed. We find it easier to judge those who have offended us than to forgive them. We require life to be predictable, satisfying, and easy. We do all the things because we are full of ourselves, in awe more of ourselves than of God…When we replace vertical awe of God with awe of self, bad things happen in the horizontal community.”
The main point of Tripp’s book is that losing sight of who God is and our awe of Him corrupts what we think, say, and do. It makes us selfish and self-centered. This is so true in my parenting. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:15 tells us that “Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
I can’t be so full of myself that I forget that I must be full of Christ, that I must elevate Him above all things in my life, especially when I’m homeschooling my kids, which tends to be the circumstance that triggers that default tendency towards self-centeredness.
By God’s grace, my daughter and I have had happy homeschooling days since this incident. I just need to be mindful that she is more precious to the Lord, to me, than her academic performance is. It’s no accident that she may be more challenging to teach in certain areas. This is one of God’s way of dealing with my own expectations and weeding out what is bad in my own heart.
Edric also reminded me…this daughter of ours is such a joyful, sweet, and gifted person in many other ways. Math may not be her strongest subject area, but she is beautiful and wonderful just the way she is.
Amen. Let me not forget to celebrate each of my children’s unique personalities and strengths! Each one of them is a precious gift from the Lord, to steward, to hold dear, and to love unconditionally, NOT to wound or to damage with my selfishness.
To all the women out there who have messed up like me, there is grace. God’s grace allows repentance, reconciliation, and redemption. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16)