Recently, I was frustrated with a few of my children who were dawdling with their room cleaning. As I walked into their still-messy room to reprimand them for being so slow in getting their project done, I was about ready to lose all of my cool.

“Why do I have to constantly repeat myself over and over again? Why can’t they just do what I ask them to do? Why do I have to constantly be checking up on them and making sure they are following through with what I’ve asked of them?”

As my anger reached its peak and began to bubble out in heated words, my heart was pricked as I thought of all of the grace and mercy God has extended to me. And, as a Christian, aren’t I supposed to be imitating Christ in how I respond to others — including my children?

Sometimes we forget what it’s like to be little and how overwhelming a project like cleaning a messy room can seem to a young child. I’m all about teaching children to work from a young age, but we need to remember what they are capable of. Cleaning a messy room can be a audacious project for young children. It’s easy to forget this when we have decades of room-cleaning practice under our belt!

Think about how it would feel if God gave you an huge assignment and then just left you and came back a little later and scolded you for not really making much traction. I’m so thankful that He doesn’t leave us or forsake us — and that He doesn’t give up on us when we falter and fail.

Instead, He is always there for us, providing help, strength, grace, and encouragement.

Once I had contemplated the grace and mercy of God toward me, I knew I couldn’t respond to my children by yelling at them — even though I was sorely tempted to! Instead, I got down and started helping my children pick up their room. Within moments, my stress began to dissipate.

We talked and laughed while putting away the toys, and books, and other things strewn about. Before I knew it, the room was clean, my joy had returned, and my children were all smiles!

Best of all, as I worked alongside them and encouraged them, I saw them really be diligent in their efforts. I’m positive that yelling at them would have never accomplished the same results.

After this experience, I’ve adopted a new theme for dealing with my mothering frustrations: instead of yelling, try helping. When I feel like exploding in anger, I’ve been stepping back and reminding myself of God’s grace toward me, and then asking God to give me grace to pour His love out to my children and instead encourage, bless, and work alongside them. I’m amazed at what a difference this has made!