I’m a very passionate person.
If you don’t know me well, that might surprise you.
I appear reserved. Polite. Reasonable. Gentle.
But push the right button — hit on an area I feel strongly about or challenge a deeply held belief and well … I pity the fool.
For those who are unfamiliar with that famous line from the Rocky movies …
After watching ME in the ring a few times defending my “turf,” my husband quickly dubbed me “Polecat.”
This tendency doesn’t always work well with my mothering.
These two hot-button areas — as they relate to mothering my kids — can knock-out my gentleness in no time flat:
(NOTE: I want to be very clear that I have awesome kids. They love God and they’re generally industrious. But they are human — teenagers, at that. And like their mother, they’re not perfect.)
Faith. My faith is extremely important to me. In fact, my relationship with Jesus is what guides me, what enables me to find peace, hope and purpose in even the most difficult circumstances. He’s the reason I have hope for future — both in the here and now and in the life to come. I have tried to pass down these fiercely and dearly held convictions — as much as that’s possible by a seriously flawed mother.
So my kids might as well stab a spear through my heart when they say one of the following statements:
Do we really have to go to church today?
I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not sure if I believe that.
You can’t just expect me to believe all the same things you do.
Them there are fighting words.
My less-than-gentle responses may or may not have sounded something like this at times:
What?! Why wouldn’t we go to church?! How can you NOT want to go to church?!
You don’t believe that? Since when? Why not? Have I not taught you anything? Where did I go wrong?
Work Ethic and Respectfulness. I have many faults. I admit that openly and often. But laziness is not one of them. I greatly value hard work in myself and others. So, things like this have been known to drive me a little loco:
— Undone homework.
— Lack of respect for someone’s time or efforts.
— Complaining or excuses.
When I sense a wavering commitment to their faith or a hint of laziness in my kids, I can quickly go into “raving lunatic” mode. Or, if I’m not careful, I’ll launch into a spirited and self-righteous lecture.
Which I have been found to be extremely effective. My kids thank me for my wisdom and immediately change their behaviors or beliefs.
But how can we be gentle or “meek” (the word used in the King James Bible)? Aren’t those just code words for weak? Shouldn’t we fight with a vengence for what’s best for our kids?
Then I discovered this interesting fact about “gentleness” or “meekness”: The Greek word for “meek” means “tame” when it’s applied to wild animals. One source explained it this way: “… such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.”
When I’m gentle with my kids, I’m not weak. I haven’t lost my strength. I’m just not acting like a wild animal.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the definitions for “meek” in the KJV Dictionary is “not easily provoked or irritated.”
Hmmm… where have I heard that before? Love does “not behave itself unseemly … is not easily provoked.” (1 Cor. 13:5)
One of my main goals as a mother is to teach my kids what I know to be true to the best of my ability. I want to encourage them to question and wrestle with their faith so that it’s their own. Another goal is to provide love, guidance, appropriate boundaries and inspiration.
When I draw on God’s power to show my kids gentleness — a calm, loving, but strong resolve and persistence — reaching those goals becomes a whole lot easier.
Gentleness allows my kids to hear what I’m saying. To sense my love for them. To sense God’s love for them.
Moms, we have to keep going to the mat with and for our kids.
But let’s leave the boxing gloves behind.
This post is part of our eight-week series, “Spirited Mom: A Fruity Look at Mothering.” We’re focusing on a different Fruit of the Spirit each week, as it applies to mothering.
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