The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing. St. John ClimacusNow how do I do this as a mother? "The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred." All too often I go with the "stirring" of the heart and wherever that might lead me. I usually react instead of responding to the situation and I have no thought of the heart issue we're facing but I tend to look for the nearest emotional "bandaid" so we can fix it and move on. What would happen if I kept my lips silent? First of all I think my children might get worried that something was wrong with me, but after the shock wore off I think it would allow them the opportunity to think and to see that mom is taking it seriously enough to put some thought into her words...hmmm.
"The next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset." How wild are the minds of mothers?! I know my mind is quick to assume the role of god instead of seeking the will of Christ our Lord. My own thoughts become judge and jury when an offense has been committed. And if my mind is busy with its own thoughts how on earth can my ears listen to the "evidence" or my eyes take in the attitude visible on my child's face or in her body language? But if I did silence my mind...if I did put road blocks up to stop the constant traffic...how would my response differ? Those times I have stepped back and taken a moment in silence I have found many of the issues I thought were so pressing actually fall away to reveal heart issues...issues I need to bring before the Lord in continual prayers. Of course this doesn't mean discipline may not be in order, but I will not be sinning in my anger if I take that moment to reflect, pray for my child and address him in love. What impact might I have on their souls if I consistently approach them in this manner?
I have a friend who made a pact with a group of young moms long long ago that they would treat their children, all the time, as she does in public. What an amazing idea. I know I don't intentionally speak differently, but often I do. You know how you can be...uh...speaking loudly...to your children and then the phone rings. What happens? Ask them! They know your voice changes to that fairy godmother sounding sweet voice. What would happen if they received that voice all the time? Yes, when we're interacting with other people it's like running a sprint. It's easier to keep it together, even if you get frustrated, when it's short term. Interacting with your children and family...well that's a marathon. I think we often try to run the marathon as if it is a sprint and that is where the problem.
"The last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing." What does that mean exactly? I'll give my mommy guess. It could mean that when storms come, in this case family storms, we should aspire to be calm however hard the winds blow, anchoring ourselves in Christ. What impact would this have on our homes?
-Oh Lord of hosts, hear my prayer. Lead me to walk your path in silence and avoid the snare of anger. Bring me to those still waters and calm my heart and my mind so I may then address not only the actions of my child, but more importantly, the heart of my child. As you deal with me, O merciful Lord, may I also deal with this child You have placed in my care. Amen.