Ephesians 4: 31-32 "Let all bitterness . . . be put away fromyou . . . Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Last Friday, I was sweating away in a workout at my gym, when a worker from the Kids' Zone came up to me and said I had to come change my baby's dirty diaper. Well, when I arrived at the childcare area, a set of unhappy faces met me and asked, "Are you also Carter's mom?" My heart sank. I affirmatively responded, and they told me that he had been reprimanded for a fit (they don't know the reason he was having a fit), and he was put in a time out, where he proceeded to scream and cry for half an hour. I was so disappointed in Carter. He is strong willed, but he usually obeys authority and does not throw screaming fits.
I gave up on working out again that day, and I promptly pulled Carter aside to "chat." He apologized to his teacher, got a spanking, was ominously told to "wait until your daddy gets home and hears about this" and was removed from getting any treats that day--no tasters from Costco right after, and there were some good ones that day!
I was VERY serious with him, as was Ryan when he got home, so I thought the heart issue surrounding the screaming fit was fixed for now. At least, I thought, he knows that the screaming fit was COMPLETELY unacceptable. Well, the same Friday, Ryan and I left Carter and Micah at my in-laws so we could have a date night. We arrived back to find out that Carter had indeed had another screaming fit at bedtime. I was SO discouraged and embarrassed. Needless to say, Carter had a repeat of the previous punishments (apologies, spankings and heart training chats) AND missed out on ice cream and cupcakes the next day at a party (a huge deal to my little junk food-a-holic).
I was not happy with Carter in the least. I felt discouraged and overwhelmed. However, this naughty day revealed some sin in my heart. The next day, I was re-reading Feminine Appeal, by Mahaney, when I came across the chapter on being angry, bitter and judgmental toward our kids and husbands. Bingo! I acknowledged I had been all three toward Carter. He deservingly was punished for his behavior, but I realized I was SO angry and bitter not only because he had sinned, but because his behavior had made ME look like a poor parent and had embarrassed me at two locations where I hope to be seen in a positive light. I had to stop and confess my sin right then and there.
Mahaney explains that bitterness happens in our hearts when a person close to us wrongs us. It can be big or little things. For instance, she explains that when your husband leaves his socks on the floor, it isn't a huge deal. However, if he does it habitually, even after we ask him to not do so, we get bitter and resentful. We have most likely let bitterness enter our hearts when we replay a wrong in our minds, wallow in self-pity over a hurt, or withdraw affection from that person. Mahaney also points out that when we are bitter and resentful, we are forgetting our own sins against God. We forget our part in putting Christ on the cross. We cannot forgive others because we have forgotten how much we are forgiven.
After I understood my bitterness from that Friday, I was able to better forgive Carter and parent him joyfully and correctly. Check your heart for bitterness. It could be seeping into your heart when that door is slammed by a family member for the umpteenth time, when your child gets in trouble at school, when your best friend accidentally slights you, when your husband fails to thank you for the special dinner you made, when you get in your car and realize your husband left it on empty for you, when you are cut off in line at the supermarket or driving your car, when your sleeping baby is awoken by the noisy neighbor, etc., etc. We are not immune to it. Recognize it and confess it. God is faithful to forgive us and restore us, and that brings such peace and comfort!