I sat in the middle of the floor fuming, absolutely fuming, as I picked up each card and slid it into the appropriate box. The anger burned inside my chest, radiating heat all the way up to my cheeks. My brow was permanently furrowed, my lips pursed as tight as I could hold them together, my jaw beginning to ache from clenching my teeth.
Every time I felt the first cleansing effects of a deep breath, all I had to do was look around me to find my fury. After all, everyone knows the expression: “Hell hath no fury like a mother left to clean up others’ messes” (Or something like that). And what a mess I was left!
I only have a picture because I wanted evidence of my rotten week for my husband, my husband who was out-of-town for the majority of the nightmare.
We had already cleaned up half of this mess once before. When I caught my son taking down his father and my games, I quickly admonished him to put them away. Of course he didn’t, as his little body was overtaken by a demon the moment his father walked out the door and headed to the airport, and his curious sister got into some of the cards from the various boxes. At this point, I joined them on the floor and began cleaning up the mess with them, lest things got too out-of-hand.
We stopped only to eat dinner, and as I packed away leftovers, they were to resume where we had left off. Apparently, my instructions were not clear, and they resumed where they had left off before I had intervened.
Every. single. card. of every. single. game. was on the floor.
Normally, I leave my kids’ messes for them to clean up, but this mess was too overwhelming, too vast, and I had to rid all evidence of this day before I tried to manage another day alone with them.
As I followed the kids upstairs, the anger burned inside me. And while I didn’t lose my temper, I definitely used it, reminding my son a half a dozen times how furious I was at him for his behavior this week, threatening the other two if they didn’t move quickly. I wanted them to go to bed and not talk to me until the morning. Of course, they didn’t comply with that request, either. We went upstairs at 6:30, and it was 8:30 before my kids were finished ‘getting ready’ for bed and another half an hour before the first fell asleep. My son decided that 10:30 would work for his bedtime that night.
And in the meantime, I sat in the middle of the floor putting card after card in its appropriate box, all the while fuming and steaming over all the reasons this mess was my husband’s, the man who had not been at our home for the last three days, fault. After all, who better to blame than the man who is out-of-town?
I had completely convinced myself that Matt was to blame for this mess, and as I sat for an hour and 15 minutes cleaning up these games, I decided that I no longer liked him.
Whenever Matt’s away, the kids act like monsters. Or if one of them is good (thank you, sweet Hannah Grace) the others make up for it. Who wouldn’t get angry at kids who behave this way?
I had enough sense to text Matt: “You know when I try to go to bed. Don’t call me.” Even though I wasn’t in bed, I didn’t think I should talk to Matt. Remember, I didn’t like him anymore, and I didn’t think I should tell him that.
So, of course, Matt called me. And I wasn’t nice.
But in my defense, I warned him not to call! I knew I was angry and couldn’t be nice, so he can’t really blame me for my less-than-loving tone.
As I lay in bed that night, I thought about how I allowed a mess of cards (albeit the worst mess of cards I’d ever seen) to create enough rage in me to kill a man. I allowed my fatigue and frustration to cloud my mind into thinking I disliked my husband. And I had created enough excuses to prove I was right.
In that moment, I had my first glimpse into how self-control really works.
Self-control isn’t just making good choices; self-control is eliminating excuses.
I lost my temper because my kids were out-of-control.
I’m so weary because my husband is out-of-town.
I’m having a cheat day today, but I’ll get back on my diet tomorrow.
These shoes were on sale, so it’s okay that I bought them (even though I already own 100 pairs).
And pretty soon, we believe the excuses and justify our behavior.
I lay in bed that night, nauseous and tired, holding on to my last thread of anger for one more moment. I thought about my husband whom I wanted to blame, my kids who were at fault for a mess (a huge one) but not for my anger, and I released them. If I wanted control of myself in the morning, I had to own up to myself that night.
I closed my eyes and said ‘goodnight’ to a horrible day and ‘goodnight’ to my excuses. And I drifted off to (a very short) sleep.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine
What are your go-to excuses for bad behavior? Leave a comment below, or link up your own post on ‘self-control!’ Thank you for joining me over the last few weeks as we explored the different fruits of the Spirit. I am worn out from God’s conviction! Stay tuned for more details as to what we’ll contemplate next in ‘Journeys’!
11 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses”
Okay, first of all… holy mess. I would've freaked too. Second, great post. I know I for one needed it. And third this line, "I decided that I no longer liked him", totally cracked me up. 😉
I'm glad that line made you laugh–that was my intention, but I never know how people are going to take the things I write. And, yes, that mess was totally freak-out worthy. Thanks for your comment today! Have a great weekend! 🙂
I do this too. It's always Craig's fault when he's not here – especially during football season. I think it's part resentment that he doesn't have to do the heavy lifting in the parenting area that I do during those months, part that I could use the help, part that I'm exhausted and defeated, and part that I just miss him and feel disconnected from him when he's not around much for days, weeks, & months on end. So instead of saying, "I miss you" I say things like "your daughter was a monster tonight and I act like it was his fault."
It's weird like that, huh?
If it's weird, then I guess I'm a weirdo, too (we already knew that)! I can relate to all of those reasons that you listed. Some women do the job gracefully, but I find the job of wife and mother quite challenging at times!
Wow. I never thought about it like that. You have brought a new perspective about self-control to me. Thank you. I guess God works on our self-control by first getting us to admit that it us our problem, not the world’s, the sale’s, the kids’, etc.
Thank you for your fresh perspective. I will meditate on this today…
You know I can relate to this after reading my post about the vacuum cleaner tantrum! And yes, I did mean to be funny in the post itself, but the reality was UGLY! Thanks for your honesty, Jennifer — I love that you put it all out there (and for the record, I would have flipped over that mess!).
I have often thought that God put Self Control at the end of the Fruit of the Spirit, because he knew it was the hardest for us to deal with. I remember being told as a young mom not to pray for patience because it is learned through tribulation (Romans 5:3). I have also learned that self-control is learned from another hard word, submission. When I submit to God's will instead of my own, my attitude is more in line with a person who is God controlled. (I Peter 1:6). Thank you Jennifer for your encouraging words that we can always begin over again. Today is a new day. The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
Thanks for the Scripture references, Cheryl. They tie in perfectly with this study on self-control!
Found your blog over on Michelle's page, so glad to meet you! Yes, i too have my little fits of rage at my kids. Mine are usually in the morning when I am trying to get to work and my kids to school. My husband works nights, so he is not up to help with the craziness that is the morning routine, but on certain mornings I have, ummm, been as loud as possible just to let him know it would be nice for a little help! Ha! Self control…yes…I am sure we could all use some work in this area
Oh wow. Just seeing all those cards on the floor gave me anxiety. I am very impressed with your restraint! Sometimes the best I can do is tell my husband, "I'm in an awful mood, I can't help it, please don't take it personally, I'm trying to overcome it." So then he at least ignores me if I'm mean.