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

When Jesus said, “Love one another,” he meant that as a parents we should love our kids like he does.

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,
  • never speak a careless word,
  • or grab your daughter’s arm in frustration.

You try—and fail. You succeed for awhile, then fail again. And the try-fail cycle never seems to end. 

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

I shared several practical ways in “How to Survive the Pressures of Parenting-Part 1.”can make a HUGE difference.

But I saved the best for last.

It’s 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

I love my son—a lot. But when he was little you wouldn’t always know it by the way I’d get angry. Especially when life got busy or I felt stretched in a million directions. When that happened, 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 was so sick of it all and discouraged. One day I came home from church and stood in the middle of the kitchen floor and began to sob. I’m not talking about a trickle of tears. No, my shoulders shook and snot came out of my nose. My skin was blotchy and my eyes red.

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

Until then I’d been trying so hard to do what was right–and that was the problem. When I messed up, I’d pray harder, “God, please help me.” Promise to do better. Read the Bible more. The trouble with all that striving was that “I” was still in the driver’s seat. In the end it was still really up to me. Or at least I thought so until my desperate prayer in the kitchen.

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 with sin and said, “God, you have to help me!”

God answered, “How much help do you want? Without me You can do nothing.”

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, and even those days when I am pushed to the limit with crying babies and energetic toddlers at work. 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 parenting 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.

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