But he said to me, “My grace if for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
My kids know to run for cover when I start screaming and yelling over the smallest infractions. My husband knows to run for cover when I get quiet, so rock bottom that I don’t have the energy to scream and complain anymore. What neither my kids, nor my husband know about is the Foul Language Phase of My Frustration.
The Foul Language Phase of My Frustration precedes the two phases mentioned above. It begins when my well is getting drained faster than I can fill it. In this phase, there is a running commentary in my head that includes every foul word in the book, a monologue that would put a truck driver to shame. “Zack, if you ask me one more _____ time to play Minecraft, I’m going to throw the ____ computer out the window!” “Mason, do I have to remind you every ____ night to put the ____ night time laundry in the ____ hamper?” “Jocelyn, do you have to pull every ____ princess dress out of the ____ dress up box and leave them all over the ____ house?” “John, every ____ dish doesn’t have to soak in the sink for ____ hours. Put your ____ plate in the ____ dishwasher!” All of this takes place in my head, but I scream it so loud in there, it’s a wonder they can’t hear it.
Until now, I’ve always indulged in this phase, letting the profanities fly in my head, getting some satisfaction from the fact that I’m growling back at whatever, or whomever, is annoying me. But today, I’m seeing things differently.
I’m realizing that this phase is a gift. Like the yellow light that glows on the dashboard of my car, this phase is the warning signal that my tank is running low: I haven’t run out of gas yet, but if I don’t stop and fill up, I will be stranded on the road of my life, either screaming and yelling, or getting eerily quiet and withdrawn.
I’m also realizing that it’s not my kids’ job, or my husband’s, to recognize this warning sign. It’s mine. Yes, it would be wonderful if they all just did what they were supposed to do and made my life easy. But that’s not reality, and this is not Heaven. Instead, I need to snap to when the foul language starts flying in my head, and recognize the situation for what it is.
This phase is a reminder from God that I can’t do this mothering thing on my own. If I’m not praying through it all, all the time, the downward spiral begins. It’s so much easier to stop and get gas in that moment when the light turns on, than it is to walk for miles to a gas station and back with a gas can banging against my thigh, or wait for hours for AAA with three kids cooped up in a minivan. So too, it would be much easier to stop in the Foul Language Phase and pray for guidance and patience, than it is to scream and yell, giving myself and everyone else around me a head ache and bad feelings.
I am weak. I do stumble. I do use foul language in my head like a truck driver. But in these moments, if I turn to God for help, in my weakness His power is made perfect.
Have you identified your pre-melt down phase? Have you ever tried praying through that phase? Has it helped? I’d love to learn from you and be affirmed that I’m not alone in my melt-downs and what precedes them.