Report on last week: epic fail.

Generally, my head-on attack of my rather vicious anger problem, by God’s power and grace, has been an exciting success. I’m watching out for my more fire-breathing-prone times:

• my awe-inspiring capability to be late (yes again, so please find your other shoe under penalty of death)

• the insanity of the dinner hour (“NO! Tonight I am banning all Nerf weapons from the kitchen! Go vanquish somewhere else!”)

• right before or directly after bed, when the finish line of a full day is in sight (“No, you can’t go to the bathroom! What do you think this is? … Okay, yes, you can go to the bathroom.”)

• my days with a lot less sleep than what would have been healthy or helpful.

I’m attempting more margin in my schedule in order to minimize time that I feel compelled to flip out and yell. I’m keeping a few strategies in my back pocket for dinner. I’m sharing bedtime responsibilities with my husband. I’m carrying my own Nerf gun. (I wish. But no, I have not yet learned to drag myself to bed earlier, either.)

Even more so, as an update on my last anger post, I’m finding that controlling my voice has been a critical step. If I can control my voice (hats off to the Holy Spirit on that one), I feel like I can keep the entire situation from escalating and spiraling out of control. Rather than my emotion calling the shots, I’m able to keep a somewhat level head. I know Proverbs says that a gentle answer turns away wrath (15:1); I guess I didn’t anticipate that my own gentle answer would turn away my wrath. Interestingly enough, I think my kids actually take my anger more seriously when I’m quietly. Speaking. Very. Firmly. (As in, Uh, Dude. Think she’s serious. Better move.)

But I’ve still got an entire week that regularly kicks my tail in anger control on a monthly basis, if you get my drift. Exempting what I know about God’s power, sometimes I feel I might as well just write “EXPECT DEFEAT” in Vis-à-vis on my calendar. And what should I say to my kids? To my six-year-old or my two-year-old? “Honey, I want to tell you about a vicious little thing called hormones. That’s why you wonder for five-to-seven days what in the world happened to the nice version of your mommy.”

So I opted for two other words this morning: I’m sorry. I was convicted of seriously sinning against my kids. No, I’m not yelling as much. But I do get into Sergeant Mom mode. That whole Colossians 3:12 concept — “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” — no. Let’s just say that would not describe my home, which was less clothed with those things … more stark naked in those areas, actually. I’m pointing, eyebrows lifted, demanding; my ears would smoke if they could (they’re probably too afraid). I am not loving as God loves me. I am harsh. My desires have morphed into demands. They’ve become idols — taking the place of God in my life — and idols demand sacrifices, like my graciousness toward children. Grace has no place here in my swirl of hormone-infused laser vision of what I want from my kids. I do not want a toddler stomping on my fledgling tomato plants. I do not want to clean up after a bunch of little piggies, no matter how cute (enter the big, bad wolf). I do not want them speaking to each other in that tone — where did you learn to talk like that, after all?!

I could blame it on estrogen raging through my bloodstream to cloud my brain in a thick, irritable haze. But what are the hormones really doing, except subtracting a few layers of self-control as I’m squeezed, and letting out what’s really in my heart? Like Paul David Tripp says, how often am I actually angry about my kids pursuing something other than God’s kingdom? Isn’t it more often that I’m angry my kids are trampling on my “kingdom?”

So this morning, I had to take some time apologizing with specifics to each child, even the two-year-old, and ask for forgiveness. . As wise counsel in my life has instructed me –  I need to regularly share with my kids that we are all in need of a Savior. God handed me a ripe opportunity to identify my own idols to my kids, rather than playing the blame game that’s as old as Adam. And the less I allow my idols to hide out, the less I allow them power over me — and the less likelihood I’ll be a repeat offender next month, swooping over the house with leathery wings so that everyone runs and hides. If I want to see less of a difference when I’m under pressure from my cycle or whatever, I’ve gotta accept that the heart of the hormone dragon is actually … mine. And it needs to be slain, so to speak, by the Prince of Peace.

May God give us each an entire month of joy and self-control.

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13 Comments

  1. I was just praying about this very thing this morning! The Lord has really been convicting me in all this. Thank you so much for your timely and honest article! And thank you Holy Spirit for working through Janel! Joyfully in Jesus, Suzanne

  2. I can relate completely with your anger blogs. I, too, am an angry mom! We have a 2 month old boy, 3 yr old daughter and 6 yr old daughter. My husband is a firefighter working 24 hour shifts every 3 days (sometimes more!), which definitely adds a unique twist (i.e. “single” mom for 24 hours at a time). Luckily I am blessed with a husband who is a very hands-on dad (most of the time!). Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honest words about your anger. Anger is most definitely my biggest struggle.

  3. Thanks for your honesty, too, Sarah. My “single” mom days (when my husband is out of pocket for the evening) feel like emotional and physical marathons–kids for 13 hours. So glad your husband, too, is all there when he’s there! Praying for special grace for you with your situation, Sarah.

  4. I know that when I am having extra anger problems that are hormone related it is a whole lot easier for me to control them. The secret to being able to control them for me is acknowledging to myself that this is why I am having an increased problem and God can help me deal with it appropriately. When I understand the why I seem to be able to tame it a little better. It’s when I don’t know why I am angry that it can really affect how I think and act. And yes it is important to ask for forgiveness and sometimes patience from a child as you try to regain control. Sometimes it is mommy who needs the time out 🙂

    1. Yeah, I kind of wish I could have time out more often… 🙂 🙂

  5. P.S. Great advice, Suanna. It’s kind of like a 12-step program for PMS: Admit you have a problem, apologize to everyone you’ve hurt.

  6. I appreciate you addressing this subject in your blog. It is also important to discern if medical help could assist you with the hormones. There are real things that happen in the brain during our PMS phases, and some of us have a much more difficult time than others. I am so thankful that God has gifted my doctors with the knowledge to help me be myself. I spent too many years in guilt about how I felt before I sought the medical help, and I wish I could have those years back with my husband and kids…

    God bless you…

    1. This is a really good word, Brenda. Thanks both for your encouragement and for the reminder that PMS involves real chemicals that in some women need real solutions. I had a friend once who sturggled with chronic depression who explained, "Diabetics need insulin, and chemically, by body needs serotonin." Getting some of these issues addressed in our physical bodies can help us be on the top of our game spiritually and with our kids. I'm grateful for your input, Brenda, and I trust that God will continue to restore whatever you've lost.

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing on anger from a Christian mom's perspective. I struggle with anger and yelling too and it's definitely hard to talk about it. Thank you for being so honest! Prayer and your tips are making a difference in my life!

  8. I've never felt like I have related to someone so much! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Wish I could tell you how grateful I am for you ladies' encouragement. I'm hoping the more we can be honest about what we're struggling with in our homes that we can all find some freedom and healing–the whole James 5:16 idea of "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." Otherwise I feel like my anger gets to be a fungus, growing in darkness…! Praying for God to be your help right now. I covet your prayers, too.

  10. I love this article as I really needed it. I am way too old to not relate my hormones and that weird who is that anger that comes around once a month, but I am figuring it out. I will read more of your posts.

  11. Thank you for writing this article. It really helped to read something like this that I could relate to. Although I am not a mother yet, my husband and I are struggling to get pregnant and I wonder if my anger is part of the reason it hasn’t happened yet. First of all the stress and second I do wonder if God is waiting for me to not have the anger issues before He allows me to get pregnant. I know it’s not true, but I feel like I am being punished. I stumbled upon this article while google searching whether my anger stems from hormones or something else. It seems my anger gets worse when I am hungry and tired, but I also know that anxiety fuels it tremendously. If something is about to fall apart or I sense something bad will happen out of my control I get so angry and freak out. One thing I wanted to mention since someone mentioned medical intervention, is to be very cautious and prayerful about whether or not to go down that route. The anger I am struggling with is actually directly caused by medication. I was on antidepressants for 15 years, starting from the age of 13, which caused me to not be able to learn all the coping skills I needed to manage my emotions appropriately at an age where my brain was still forming (this is what my Christian psychiatrist told me) so when I came off my medication, slowly two years ago I had extreme anxiety and rage. It was due to what is called discontinuation syndrome. It is not widely recognized to last longer than a couple weeks by most psychiatrists as they tend to think that after a few weeks you return to your natural state and are presenting the symptoms you normally have, but if you research online like my husband and I did, you will find many that struggle with these symptoms up to at least a year after coming off medication. I leveled out after a year or so and that is why my husband and I decided it was okay to start trying for kids. But I still have some residuals of the anger problem. While on the medication, I had thought that I was going crazy because every once in a while I would have extreme anger, but my husband finally put two and two together and we realized that those were the times I had forgotten to take my medication. It happened because I had abruptly stopped the medication, without realizing. Medication does help to a point in some people, but only because it masks the real problem that lies within our heart. Some individuals truly do need it for extreme cases like bi-polar and schizophrenia or for those who are going to hurt themselves to take medication for a short time just to get over that hurdle, but even in those we still need to be addressing the heart issue. For me, I do wonder if hormones play a role in my anger. I can’t tell whether my body has healed from the medication and now I’m dealing with anger from a different cause or if it is a deep seeded issue in my heart. All I know is I keep begging God to help me and I am don’t see much change. I thank God so much that I have a very patient husband, but he is only human. I hate hurting him with my words and want to be better so badly. I am at a loss. Haven’t been able to find a counselor either and people at my church don’t seem to understand even my small issues leading me to believe they would not be able to understand with the bigger ones, so I just feel all alone. I feel I have been screaming from the roof top for two years, I NEED HELP! And I get not answer from God, counselors, friends, church, family. It’s been so hard. Sorry for rambling. Guess it shows I haven’t had many people to talk to.