Last Updated on March 11, 2019

I went in for my every-three-and-a-half-months, I’ve-put-this-off-too-long, please-cut-my-hair-so-it-doesn’t-look-like-I’m-wearing-a-lampshade appointment at the hairdresser. I have a head full of decidedly curly, i.e. forgiving but frizzy hair, quickly becoming more frizzy and less forgiving. I believe the dialogue went something like this.

Hairstylist: Are you under a lot of stress?

Me: Um, well, yeah. Some.

Me, internal dialogue: Why are you saying some? The answer is DEFINITELY. Preparing for sell-what-you-can’t-pack garage sale + homeschooling three kids + moving four kids under seven to Africa + not going to bed when you should = stress. HEL-LOOOO. In a bit of denial, are we? What is the deal with you and the constant supermom job application to—everyone? Say “YES.”

Hairstylist: Well, I was wondering. I have never seen your hair fall out like this! It’s either stress or you need your thyroid levels tested.

Me, internal dialogue: ACK! Thyroid issues are in my family! I need to add a thyroid test to my to-do list now? I think I want to cry. So much stress that my hair is falling out? That makes me feel stressed.

So. Well. I’m…under a bit of stress. There is no supermom present here. If you find her, get her back here, because her house needs a good cleaning. Tell her to bring the garage sale pricing stickers and some lesson plans.

Unfortunately, I am definitely more susceptible to temptation with my anger problem. I’m not yelling so much as I am just so irritable. (And you’d better not agree with that assessment.)

Symptoms? Overreacting. Touchy. Cannot deal with children who pop out of bed for their third drink of water (Can they really be thirsty? If I did not sound selfish, I would snap, “This is my time! Go to bed!” As it is, I just snap, “Go to bed!”).  Overreacting.  Auditory hypersensitivity. (Please do not say “Mama.” At all. Please do not tap your fingernails on the table. Under no circumstances shriek a family member’s name.)  Crying at weird times. Lack of energy to play with children or be funny or laugh at five-year-old-level jokes.  Overreacting.

So here is what I am reminding myself in my clawing attempts to maintain self-control and a walk with the Holy Spirit.

  1. Sleep = patience, gentleness, self-control. Pretty much all of the fruits of the Spirit, actually. Sleep is not negotiable, Janel. I repeat: NOT negotiable.
  2. Pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” If Jesus prayed for protection from temptation, I definitely should, too.
  3. Spend time replenishing. I cannot think so highly of myself that I think I need no margin. My children feel my lack of margin. I should too—before it gets to the boiling point. This includes grace-filled rather than duty-driven time with God.
  4. Ask for forgiveness. Keep “short accounts” with my kids, asking for their forgiveness frequently. Pray for mommy’s irritability together. Let them know I’m struggling.
  5. Beyond what God is asking of me, no stress is worth the price of my family. ‘Nuff said. A less-than-perfect garage sale or PB & J’s for dinner are small sacrifices to have loved my kids well. Repeat after me: Just say “no.”
  6. Live by grace. Can’t let my frustration over my anger mess-ups (or any mess-ups) paralyze me because of my perfectionism and my pride. The idea is not to present God with my perfect record, by His strength or not. The idea is that Jesus has already earned everything for me, and He’s the Potter who’s got me in a process.
  7. Seek out joy furiously. Keep lists of things for which to be joyful. Joy in God changes the way I see the world, my family included.
  8. Remember He’s given me what I need—and not more than I can handle. If I need loving proof, I can revisit II Peter 1:3, Lamentations 3:22-24, and I Corinthians 10:12.
  9. Tell friends. Sounds ludicrous, I know. But James 5 says it well: “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I did this after church this past Sunday, and I felt a great deal of freedom. It’s like the first of a 12-step program—admitting I have a problem.

I like the ways Galatians 6 puts it, too:

[verse reference=”Galatians 6:1-2″]If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.[/verse]

Anyone got more tips for dealing with stress in anger? Help! Please share!

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  1. Awww, friend- admit it- you wrote this for me 🙂 thanks for sharing, supermom. you are doing an amazing job preparing your family for your move and have that big smile on your face every time I see you.

    1. Ha! Maybe it should be "supernatural" mom, because that's pretty much the only super I'm sensing right now :). So glad you could resonate with this. That smile has definitely been on your face, too, despite some serious obstacles.

  2. Girl, I love ya and your transparency is such a blessing – not to mention your sense of humor. {hugs}

    1. Thanks, Amy. I am amazed at how God's used humor in this journey–esp. from my husband–to just cause us all to take a deep breath and unclench our grip a little :). Grateful for you.

  3. love this janel- once again i can relate to so much of it and SLEEP- yes, it is a priority! how much better do we feel with more sleep! bless you lots, you are amazing xxxxxxx

    1. Ha! Thank you, Sarah. There are definitely times when I need to stay up late, but there are times my reasons aren't great ones :). Thanks for the encouragement–and hang in there, sweet friend.

  4. Another great article, Janel! But, I just can NOT picture you irritable….just sayin…

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Don't ask my kids 🙂

  5. Wow! It sounds like the person you describe is living at my house, sometimes.
    Thanks for the tips. I've also found that certain verses in Proverbs, Psalms, or James really help me when I'm struggling. I like to write them on the white board in my kitchen where I see them frequently, to help me meditate on them and pray my way through my days. Sleep, sometimes I wonder about that.

    1. What a good idea, Suanna. I'd love to know some of your favorite verses for your white board!

      1. I don't remember the references. I often find something that helps in my quiet time, but unless I put it somewhere where I can focus on it I don't remember what I even read. This one should be on my white board now, but I haven't put it there yet. Hebrews 3:6 "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold onto our courage and the hope of which we boast." Another good verse I read this week is Psalm 5:2-3.

        1. Really liking that verse, and I'll have to look up the Psalm 5 verses as well! Thanks for sharing the encouragement, Suanna :).

  6. Your post is a gift from God to me right now. I am in a time of unique stress and feel like NO one gets it. I will be writing down my own top ten for myself today. Thank youi so much for your gentle reminders. We are children of a great and kind God.
    Caroline <><

    1. Praying for you right now, Caroline. Thanks for your vulnerability. May God give you unique strength that's even greater than what you're going through.

  7. Jennifer Baltzley says:

    Loved this, Janel! Thank you so much for your transparency and for allowing God to use you to encourage other moms! 🙂

    1. Hey, if God can use my fallenness to help other moms, bring it on :). Thanks for the encouragement, Jen!