Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Like A River

Why does it seem like my Bigger Picture epiphanies all come to me after terrible, low days?  (I want to write of silly happiness, is sometimes messy.) If it takes a bad day to make me see straight, I guess I'll try to make the best out of it, and actually learn from it.  Here goes nothing.

On Tuesday, I believe I ran across my worst day of parenting thus far. 

The day began innocently enough, with an overflowing dirty diaper which had been slept in and rolled around upon all night by my toddler.  How she could rest in that mess boggles my mind.  But, no matter.  It wasn't anyone's fault; it was easily cleaned up, and thankfully without the payback of diaper rash to hinder our day. 

And that was one of the high points of our day.  The overflowing poop was a high point.  It almost makes me cry to see that in writing.  Because if poop was a highlight, the lowlights must have been like a black hole. 

We had some fun activities planned -- baking banana bread and writing pen-pal letters -- which never quite materialized.  Oh, we made the banana bread, and yes, had some fun doing so.  But it burned during the time it took me to break up an argument about whose turn it was to throw all the pillows off the couch. 

Early on, it became clear to me that our resident 2.5-year-old was having a record-breaking day of tantrums and whining and joyful rebellion.  She was insanely badly behaved, by my standards.  I couldn't get a grip on my patience, and therefore every little thing that went wrong quickly became disastrous. 

Because I started yelling. 

hate yelling.  It only makes things worse, which has never been more true than it was that day.  I stomped around, threatening physical punishment (Which is just as bad as actually using physical punishment in that it accomplishes the same thing: control through fear.  Which I don't want to do.  Sigh.)

We ended the day with my sweet little (terror of a) toddler whispering as I left her dark bedroom: And tomorrow you won't be mad again?

I made no promises.

That night, though, I prayed.  I prayed so deeply that I forgot what I was praying about, and it became more of a conversational monologue.  I prayed for patience and understanding and creativity to get through the next day.  Nothing beyond that.  Only one day at a time.

But mostly, I begged forgiveness for losing myself so fully to the anger I'd let run unchecked through my day.  I don't want my kids to be raised by a rampant, yelling mother.  I don't want them to cower before me or behave because they're afraid of what I'll do in punishment.  I do want obedience.  But not like this.

The next morning, the tension in my neck had abated to a dull restlessness.  I had high hopes.  I prayed again, still hoping for some spiritual guidance to reach down from the heavens to bestow upon me the gift of patience and clear-headedness. 

Instead, the morning was completely regular: fits and games, tantrums and peace, spread intermittently all around us. 

But here was something different: there was a song running through my head, unbidden.  It snuck in and made itself at home. 

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  Let there be peace on earth, a peace that was meant to be....

On it ran, singing its words through my mind, ringing soundly over one simple phrase.  Let it begin with me. 


I want it.  And it can only begin with me.  In my home, under my watchful eye.  It begins with being patient with my children.  It begins with not losing control of my temper when their choices are out of my control. 

It begins with me.  It travels to my children, and to their friends, and to their teachers, and to the entire world.  That sounds like too large of a bite to take, but break it down, look at it carefully, and...

It's about the tone of my voice.  It's about the fall of my foot.  It's about the look in my eyes. 


Let it begin with me.

Link your Bigger Picture Moment at Hyacynth's place this week -- we'd love to read your moments; big or small, all are welcome.  I'll be hosting next week, so keep the Bigger Picture in mind until then!


  1. Oh Sarah, I'm sorry you've had such bad days, but what a beautiful realization! And I, of course, am wishing you peace--and perfectly-cooked banana bread--for today.

  2. Amen! Two nights ago after weeks of sleeping horribly (Emmeline regressed to getting up every 2 hours at night) I decided to kneel down at her crib and pray.
    45 minutes later I woke up to realize that I had fallen asleep during the middle of my prayer!
    However, sweet Emmeline slept for the next 5 hours without getting up to nurse.

  3. Bravo, Sarah. This was beautiful, and more wise than you know.

  4. I too notice that during the worst days when I can manage to keep my cool, the days turn around quicker because they don't feed off of me. Sometimes when I yell. my oldest tells me I am being mean to him :(
    I hate it because he is right, I am the adult.. by now I should have control over my behaviors, right?

  5. Oh my,

    I had a Tuesday like that as well. A sick infant and a sleepless night made me totally unpleasant to live with. I had to apologize about fifty times to my older kids. Wednesday was better!

  6. This is an absolutely beautiful post and a truth that all of us would benefit from living out daily.

  7. So very true. I think we all need that reminder sometimes.

  8. I love this! I hate the look of fear in my children's eyes when I've given in to anger. It breaks my heart and makes me run to a Savior that freely gives when I ask!

  9. I have been having a hard time with my toddlers right now, too, and I really needed to read this. It's a good reminder.

    Thank you.

  10. This makes me cry...I needed to hear this today. Thanks, Sarah!

  11. Beautiful. I have had days like this too. Days where I get so fed up I start screaming, peace feels so hard to come by. And yet I can't expect it to come from my children.

  12. Love this! We have all been there. That is what makes it a process. I love the way that you were able to change for the next day. That is kind of what life is all about.

  13. I had this day last week, and the following day was so much better because of the prayer and searching for patience and peace. It's just so hard to always see it, right in the middle of it. But if we always evaluate our actions...we'll do alright in the end. This was beautiful. I was so right with you every step of the way!

  14. I have days SO similar. I hate that feeling at the end of the day, when you are lying in your bed and feeling rotten. And you start again the next day. Because sometimes that's the best you can do.
    Beautiful post. I'm sorry it's been a rough few days. Sending virtual hugs...and peace in your heart.

  15. Sarah, I just love the way you put this feeling, this thought and revelation that's been stirring in my heart, too, into words.
    I've been trying to find a way to say it, express it, and I've just failed miserably. But this -- this is it! Peace begins with me in my home. And you in your home. And mothers really just need the support and love and encouragement to be peaceful.
    Sounds easy. Totally isn't.
    Beautifully expressed moment today!

  16. i have had those days. and love that it recaptured the next day.
    because peace has very little to do with our circumstances.
    and everything to do with the song in our heart.

  17. I could have written these words. Except not because I am not nearly as eloquent with my words. But I felt as though I was reading about myself. Thanks for sharing.

  18. I adore your blog. This entry made me cry because it is the EXACT day we are having today and I am in the same boat of yelling and then hating myself for it. I am going to follow your example and pray for guidance and forgiveness. You are so right that peace starts with us. Thank you for sharing!

  19. What a beautiful post, Sarah! I have had those exact same days where I resort to the deepest darkest parts of myself just to get through. And then I feel awful. Just awful.

    I love that you prayed about your bad day. And I adore that He answered you so profoundly. And I'm forever grateful that you shared it all with us!


  20. i wish i didn't but i know how this goes. i don't want to be that yelling mom, but some days are better/worse than others.

    yes to peace and forgiveness and mercies new every morning.

    these verses have been rattling around my head for a while:

    The LORD's justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.

    17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

    18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest. (isaiah 32)

    to more yell-free days in your home and mine! xo


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?