Live by the Holy Spirit’s power…
Galatians 5:16

When Jesus said, “Love one another,” he was including how we relate to our kids.

That’s the goal anyhow. Sounds like such a good idea. But when parenting pressures kick in full force, what you do doesn’t always measure up with Jesus’s perfect command to love “as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

You know what you’re supposed to do…be patient, not get irritated, not get defensive. And for awhile everything’s good–until you mess up again.

When the pressure is on, how do you keep from exploding—in anger, impatience, frustration?

In “How to Survive the Pressures of Parenting, I shared a few specifics steps that made a HUGE difference for me.

But I saved the best for last.

It turned my life upside down, or maybe I should say right side up. It’s absolutely revolutionized my life–and I know God can use it to completely change yours too.

Exploding under Pressure – A Personal Story

For a long time I struggled with anger. I love my son—a lot. But when he was little I didn’t always show it. When life got busy or I felt stretched in a million directions, I’d get irritated and snap at him and then feel terrible. I’d determine to change. But within a few days or weeks, I’d do it again.

“God,” I prayed, “help me be more patient.”
“God, help me not to get irritated.”
But those prayers seemed to go nowhere. I’d try, then fail. Try and fail again.

One day I was so sick of the try harder-fail cycle. I stood in the middle of the kitchen floor and began to sob.

God, I can’t, I cried out loud. I just can’t anymore. I’ve tried. I want to do what is right but I mess up every time.

I didn’t realize it right away but I’d just taken my first step toward change–giving up.

Until then I’d been trying so hard to do what was right. I’d pray more. “God, please help me.” Read the Bible more. Resolve harder.

But that was the problem. “I” was still in the driver’s seat. I was asking God to bless my efforts. When instead he just wanted me to step aside and let his Holy Spirit do what only he could do. After all, the fruit of the Spirit is his fruit, not my efforts.

Coming to the end of myself opened up the door for God’s Holy Spirit to take over.

Change–that had nothing to do with me

Instead of exploding under pressure, I started reacting differently–and not only when it came to parenting. One day I was at a wedding where one of guests said something wrong and hurtful.

Normally I would have…

a) engaged in some desperate self-talk: “Okay, Carol, take a deep breath. Don’t get angry. Bite your lip. Don’t say anything you’ll regret.”

b) headed for the nearest exit to pray furiously that God would help me overcome the hurt.

Instead I prayed bluntly, “God, I don’t have it in me to forgive them. Holy Spirit, would you do in me what I just can’t.” Only a miracle can describe the fact that the anger and drained away.

Sheer Grace

As Christians, we know we’re saved purely by grace, not through any efforts of our own. But we also live by grace every day—not by striving harder. Or doing more. Or praying longer.

Law requires effort and strain, urging us toward a goal we can never reach. Grace works all of God’s…will in us.

Andrew Murray

Pastor John Wimber put it another way. He was struggling in an area and said, “God, you have to help me!”

God answered, “How much help do you want? Without me You can do nothing” (John 15:5).

That was the beginning of change.

Living in the Holy Spirit’s power instead of my own (Galatians 5:6) has been revolutionary for me—as a parent, as a wife, as a friend. I’m not perfect–looong ways to go on that. But I’m not ruled by irritation or anger anymore.

What’s your reaction under pressure?

Worry? Anger? Losing yourself in a sleeve of Oreos?

Whatever it is, the answer is the same as it was for me–walk in the Holy Spirit’s power.

What are you struggling with right now?
How does God want to use his grace, not your efforts, to get you where you’d really like to be?

© 2020, Carol Garborg (adapted from the original November 2019)

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