Stress, Yelling, and SIN

Stress, Yelling & SinUnfortunately, this last week in particular, I and my children have seen incontrovertible evidence that (at least for me), stress and yelling seem to have a direct relationship. When stress increases, the volume and frequency of my yelling increases as well.

So this weekend, I asked a group of godly women to exhort me in regard to yelling. I’ve tried self-shaming; I’ve tried behavior modification; I’ve tried visual reminders…

I knew something needed to change.

That “something” was my heart and mind. You see… I was not seeing it as sin; instead I was justifying it in my mind. My justifications went like this:

  • “I don’t yell all the time; it’s happening because I’m stressed out.”
  • “They know I’m stressed, they know this isn’t normal, and they know that I love them.”
  • “It’s not THAT bad. I’m not… (cursing at them, hitting them, fill in the blank).”
  • “I’m yelling TO them, not yelling AT them (not calling them names, etc.).”
  • “Yelling was commonplace in my home when I was growing up.”
  • “Yelling is partly cultural and personality-based” (yes, I actually told myself this). “Italians & Greeks are louder families than others… so maybe this is just a loud thing and not a SIN thing.”

I thought back about 8-9 years, to the moment when I first yelled at our children, (in a very stressful time, incidentally), and I remember thinking, “I won’t always feel so frustrated. He won’t grow up with a yelling mom. I just yell in rare circumstances, when I’m pushed to my limits.

But guess what? I’m still yelling. Surprise, surprise.

(Let this be a warning to you, young mom with one toddler who just started yelling: SIN DOESN’T KILL ITSELF. THESE THINGS DON’T JUST IMPROVE ON THEIR OWN. STOP THIS THING NOW BEFORE YOU WAKE UP TO IT WITH A WONDERFUL, WOUNDED ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD STARING BACK AT YOU.)

Well, my friends (who I so DESPERATELY NEEDED to square with me) squared with me. Here’s what they told me:

  • “Is yelling respectful? Does yelling show honor to God or His image bearers? Does yelling pass the Ephesians 4:29 test? Does yelling glorify God?” ~LearningByEar
  • Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but ONLY such as is GOOD FOR BUILDING UP, as fits the situation, that it may GIVE GRACE to those who hear.
  • “I hesitate to blame ‘irritation’ on lack of self-control. Yes, you do need to control yourself, but usually you ned to prepare first. You prepare by first of all, making calmness and self-control your top priority, not just at night when you pray before bed but choosing it over and over again all day long. Next, because not losing your temper is now your top priority, you need to rearrange your life to assist you in that goal. That means thinking ahead so you can head off an irritating situation BEFORE it happens. Slowing down, keeping your kids WITH you, cutting out unnecessary activities, simplifying your life, giving your kids direction rather than reacting to their choices, etc., are all things you can do to assist in your goal of developing and keeping to a new level of self-control. It is not a matter of just learning to grit your teeth when things happen. You must make it a continuing priority over and over and you must prepare ahead whenever possible.” ~Elizabeth, mom of 10
  • Yelling is all about the yeller; it’s about pride. You yell because your will isn’t being done on Earth as God’s will is in Heaven” (I borrowed that from Tedd Tripp). ~LearningByEar
  • “Yelling is a sin. It’s vicious and horrible and mean and nasty and vindictive. It’s hateful. Seeing it for what it was is what made me finally stop doing it.” ~Laura, mom of 9
  • “I think we all know what type of “yelling” is wrong and sinful. Yelling “Johnny NO!!!” as your toddler is about to touch a hot stove is not wrong at all. Yelling at your kids because you are just in the habit of dealing with them that way instead of better ways, is wrong and sinful, period. First, change the way you think. Love good and hate evil. See yelling (or any other lack of self-control) as the sin it is and hate it. Make it a top priority it rid your life of it. Take if off the list of options you use to deal with your children’s misbehavior.” ~Elizabeth

One thing one friend said stood out to me:

  • “Galatians 5:19-21 lists fits of rage right there with drunken orgies.”

Here’s the thing: she’s absolutely right.

This is what the verse says: “The acts of the flesh are evident:” (and here’s the list– not in order– but all there):

  • sexual immorality
  • dissensions
  • idolatry
  • orgies
  • jealousy
  • impurity 
  • drunkenness
  • sorcery
  • sensuality
  • fits of anger
  • divisions
  • enmity
  • envy

“Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

I mean, seriously.

I would NEVER justify participating in orgies or sorcery. That stuff is straight-up wickedness!

This is a good reminder for why the Word is so important. When I am yelling at my kids, it *IS* a fit of anger, just like what Scripture condemns, right alongside those things I would never do. I am frustrated, embarrassed, feeling disrespected, disobeyed, and yes, I have let them go too far down a path without clear direction. But none of it justifies wickedness.

As a child of God, with the Spirit inside of me, I am FREE not to sin, but I have to walk in that. When I yell, I am NOT walking in the Spirit; I am choosing instead to walk in the flesh.

When I yell, I am throwing an adult-sized temper tantrum with ME and MY DESIRES at the center of the universe. (TWEET THAT.)

And that sin- throwing FITS OF ANGER- is a sinful stench to God, and a slap in the face of the risen Christ, in the same way it would be if I was participating in seances and orgies.yelling is NOT OK

Hearing from my friends (praise God for truth-speaking friends!) re-framed this issue for me, in the right biblical perspective. Saturday night, I wrote these quotes and verses on notecards with rainbow-colored-markers (which makes anything more fun, right? Thank you, Costco.), and put them up on my mirror.

Praise God, my husband had the night shift and so I used that time alone, after the kids were in bed to pray, journal, and confess my sin to God.

Sunday morning, when I woke up, I pulled my kids close around the breakfast table and confessed my sin of anger and yelling to them. Not just, “I’m sorry, mommy was wrong,” but a confession of my SIN. I shared with them the verses I just shared with you (albeit, with kid-sized explanations for the tougher, R-rated words).  I told them that when I yell, I am willfully giving in to my flesh & not yielding to God. I am sinning against them and God.

I asked for their prayers, and for their forgiveness. My sweet kids gave both, and hugs and smiles abounded.

Stress, Yelling & Sin

And so now, here I am, sharing this with you too. I am sharing for accountability’s sake, and out of a desire to be transparent with and grow alongside you. I am planning to write more, in the coming weeks, about yelling. I want to encourage you, not from a position of one who has my act together in this area, but as a fellow traveler on the road.

I want to shut this sin down. I want to choke it to death so it will no longer rule and reign in my heart in life.

Is this an area where you struggle?

Has yelling become the way (or even a way) you deal with life’s frustrations?

Let’s grow alongside each other and kill this terrible sin that wants to choke joy and life out of our homes.

 

Images courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

33 thoughts on “Stress, Yelling, and SIN

  1. Madelyn

    Anger is a kind of drunkenness. Once you get going, you are actually enjoying the feeling! You keep on going…you’re looking for more to yell about…it’s an altered state of consciousness. And it’s definitely addictive!

    Reply
  2. Lisa adams

    I rarely yell anymore. I don’t have to. They are in high school and 5th grade. They are well trained, they do their chores, help around the house, carry their weight. It was not always like this, they were little and it was a hard season. I don’t have to,yell because of relationship, because I have influence and because I respect them. They respond by doing what needs done, I benefit from relationship when they share their heart with me. I stopped yelling when after 5 years of homeschooling, they all went to school, christian school. Then, after 5 years of financial sacrifice, they are all in public school. And it’s good. The horror stories about public school ate not true, not for us. Sending them to school gives me space, margin for the introvert to recharge. When they come home, I am more able to be there for them. I have time for silence, devos, worship, journaling, reading, self care, and a part time job I love that nurtures who I am so I can be the mom I want to be. I couldn’t thrive by being their all in all as a mom/teacher. I would yell because they got in my way of what I wanted, selfish, I know. All the scriptures that condemned me never made me a better mom, just heaped shame, not useful. I would say it gets easier as they get older, but only if good training is in place and if you manage to stay in relationship. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      Interesting, Lisa. You said, “I rarely yell anymore; I don’t have to.” Not picking on you- just jumping off from that statement.

      That’s where I want to hone in, in my own heart, is that really as believers in Christ, we are freed FROM sin. We don’t *have* to sin… we aren’t slaves to it. Once we are in Christ, none of us *have* to sin, but we choose to.

      That’s where I want to focus, in my own heart. The externals can be adjusted, but ultimately, if my heart is NOT adjusted from this yoke of sin, there will have been no ultimate growth. I’ll just have made life easier for myself, but my heart will not be changed.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie Brown

    Very well said and thanks for sharing. As a mom of 7 (4 of my own and 3 step-kids), I completely relate. Always asking God to help me be a better mom. Not that I’m a bad one, just saying no matter how good you are there is always room for improvement. Last night, as I was praying with two of my kids, one of the things I prayed for was to change us where we need to be changed. Then to read this from you this morning, touched my heart. Like you, I sometimes yell, not all the time, but I do. Like you, I want to change that. Thank you for sharing such a subject. And yes, lets walk this road of transformation together! I am determined to be better and better and renewed for my kids and family. I an determined for my life to always Glorify God. I know its not possible to always do that, for we all fall short from time to time. However, if we are always trying, then those times will be fewer and His glory will be more!

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      Thanks, Stephanie. Let’s do it.

      The pastor shared a great quote from John Owen about killing sin yesterday-
      “Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.”

      He talked about the perseverance it requires to actually choke a thing to death. I want to hold on to this thing and choke it out of my life- not let it creep back in or justify it “because I’m stressed.” Now that I am clear on just how sinful it is, I aim to “make no provision for the flesh.” No excuses. No justifications. No posturing. I want to cut this thing out.

      A few more excellent John Owen quotes on the mortification of sin:

      “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

      “The vigor and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on our mortification of deeds of the flesh.”

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Reply
      1. Stephanie Brown

        I find it very helpful to walk with others going through the same things. I have found that often times, in giving them words of encouragement and speaking the word to them, I often end up talking to myself as well. Amazing how God works like that.

        I am with you! I want yelling to have no place in my life, my heart or my mind! I want that sin 100% gone. To be renewed in such ways that words can’t express. Not only do I want it to change my heart, but I pray it spills over onto my children and husband and we have a renewed family unit! That is my prayer of transformation and I pray I lead by example!

        Reply
        1. Jess Connell Post author

          Stephanie, YES! to this:

          “in giving them words of encouragement and speaking the word to them, I often end up talking to myself as well. Amazing how God works like that.”

          Reply
    2. Jess Connell Post author

      Stephanie and I just had this little exchange on FB… I want to share it with everyone- (Her comments are bolded; mine are regular)

      Stephanie shared from her devotional:
      “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. —Romans 12:2

      Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. —Psalm 105:4

      I was praying about being changed where I need to be changed even before I read this last night. Then this morning was your blog! Seems God is definitely speaking to me and my heart/mind.

      I am so glad. I feel like this has been a breakthrough for me. I didn’t realize how much I was justifying what is CLEARLY sinful. This has been moment-by-moment this morning… just each time I am tempted to grump or gripe, keeping my attitude & volume in check. Instructing, correcting, teaching, but not allowing myself to go into angry selfish yelling mama mode.

      It is something that just becomes part of life sometimes for many people. It definitely has to be a conscious effort to change. It is the things we choose. We can either choose sin or choose the fruit of God. As followers of Christ, we choose to follow Him day in and day out. Same goes for sin, it is a choice. Often times, sin, such as yelling, becomes justified by someone making us mad, not listening, irritating us, and so forth. However, that is just a lie that Satan plants in our heads to hinder us to grow in Christ and keep us from our true blessings. It is a daily choice and with a changed heart, open eyes, and guidance from our Lord and Savior, it will become a sin of the past.

      Yes. It is so easy to think, “I only did that because he… I wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t …”

      Exactly, but those are Satan’s lies

      It is so important for us to remember that his aim is to steal, kill, and destroy.

      Reply
  4. Laura

    Cannot believe you posted this today… I screamed at my kids all morning, ended up in my room crying because I hate being such a beast but I don’t know how to stop!!! And it was all from stress – none of the kids were listening to me or starting in on school and they kept fighting, etc… In the back of my mind, I know that guests are coming tonight and I have myriads of things to do before they come… sigh. I hate the yelling but am unsure how to stop. My poor boy telling me, “Mommy, you don’t have to yell!” makes me so, so sad.

    Okay, sorry to spill my guts, but seriously, this was so needed for me today. I am so done with yelling.

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      Laura,
      Hang in there. It’s not through will-power that we will stop. I am seriously meditating on the sinfulness of it– so that it is not just gritting my teeth, but rather that the Spirit of God can convict me and change my heart.

      The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL. When I am a tree, rooted in Christ, drawing from HIM as my source, that will be the fruit my life produces.

      The verse above spelled out what the “deeds of the flesh” are. When I act like that, I am drawing my strength from the flesh… it is the source of my actions.

      So I am soaking myself in the Word (using an audioBible to help with that today in the midst of busy life), but I am also not losing sight of the sinfulness of my sin.

      In the way that I would not let a murderer into my home, with wicked intentions toward me and my children, and sneak around in it, I am keeping my eyes on this murderous, wicked tendency in my life, and not letting it sneak around and gain ground in my home. This– killing this terrible sin– is a top priority for me today.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        Last year, a friend and I decided that we’d start to be accountable to each other for our anger at our kids. I mean, isn’t this what guys do to monitor their porn use, and isn’t accountability a huge part of 12-step programs? Well, if anger falls in with drunkenness and sexual immorality, then it stands to reason that it’s something we need an extra boost of help with. We found it was so, so helpful, and we made such headway just knowing that someone else was going to check in. And then life got in the way and we slowly stopped propping each other up…

        Anyway, I just thought I would mention it as I found accountability to be extremely helpful in my journey of killing anger. You mentioned being accountable to us, but I like the idea of having a close in-real-life friend to help out too.

        Reply
  5. Megan

    I read in a book by Randy Alcon that one fit of anger produces as much cholesterol as eating a dozen eggs. One more good reason to stop yelling. Your connecting stress with yelling is very true in my own life… I was never a yelling mom until the last year or so when our stress has been through the roof. I hate it too… my daughter has asked me “Mom, are you angry at me?” when I’m not, I just sound like I am, or look like I am. I will come back and read this again. Thanks, Jess… In it with you!

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      I read in a book by Randy Alcorn that one fit of anger produces as much cholesterol as eating a dozen eggs. One more good reason to stop yelling.

      WOW, interesting. I’ve never heard that! God always is after our GOOD and this is just another way… He knows that fits of anger are evil in and of themselves, but even the results they produce, in our lives, and in others, are not good for us.

      Your connecting stress with yelling is very true in my own life… I was never a yelling mom until the last year or so when our stress has been through the roof. I hate it too… my daughter has asked me “Mom, are you angry at me?” when I’m not, I just sound like I am, or look like I am. I will come back and read this again. Thanks, Jess… In it with you!

      Ugh, I know. I can so identify with that: “I’m not, but I sound & look like I am.” I am so ready to rid our home of this.

      Reply
  6. Jamie

    Jess,
    Encouraged by your seriousness towards sin (calling it what it is!) and yet gospel hope and perspective (not by willpower)… we all yell at our kids. We all have arguments with the hubby (some families are louder and some are more passive-aggressive). We all are needy sinners! But, yes, learning to say no to sin and kill sin as God kindly reveals it to us… may grace keep compelling all of us to live for Him in those unseen moments in our homes (He sees!) and in our heads (He knows our thoughts!).. may sin also lead you (us) to long for heaven that much more!!

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      may grace keep compelling all of us to live for Him in those unseen moments in our homes (He sees!) and in our heads (He knows our thoughts!)

      Yes, Jamie, it is startling to think that oftentimes, if we thought even ONE other person was watching us, we would control ourselves. It is functional atheism, then, that we don’t control ourselves when God Himself sees every moment. The truth is that He sees. He knows. And the way we live reveals how we are thinking about Him.

      Thankfully, there is grace for when we mess up. Grace alongside the truth of His all-seeing presence.

      Thanks for chiming in!

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        Yes, I’m so thankful for His grace “that is greater than all my sin!”
        Hey, on a different note. do you know I quote you every few weeks to my husband – something you said a long time ago that stuck with me about how you try and aim to have all kids under 5 nap until/unless they can show they can make it from naps-bedtime without flipping out from exhaustion. I’m not quoting you exactly… anyway, it’s been helpful counsel to us! We might have “dropped naps” way too early… and my 4 year old still needs at least a short one. Thanks!!
        Love,
        jamie

        Reply
        1. Jess Connell Post author

          I didn’t know that, but yes, that is exactly my rule! You’re right, that it is tempting to drop naps sooner but having that clear attitude guideline makes it very obvious when a child still needs more sleep. I’m glad it’s helped y’all.

          Reply
  7. Lauren

    YES! This is the biggest sin issue I have going on in my life. It’s so hard to change, and I see how I’ve affected my children, especially my oldest. At eight years old, she can be so short with her siblings. It’s God hanging a mirror in my face. I really pray that my striving, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, will yield better results soon and that I don’t mess my kids up! And the cholesterol comment above, I totally believe it. Mine has gone up!

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      Lauren- YES God is good to let us SEE the reflection of us in our children. It can feel so painful and humiliating but it shows us what WE need to work on.

      I tell our kids I wish I could give them a perfect mama… one that never messes up, never hurts them (even unintentionally), never says or does the wrong thing. Instead, I get to humble myself, apologize to them, develop dependence on God, and it stands as a reminder for us all that all of life– even my imperfection– points to the human need for Jesus. That HE is the only one who can be all that any of us need.

      Reply
  8. Brandy Gainor

    This is such a great post. I can relate with just about every lie you wrote! I’m a yeller. I’ve struggle for a while. I remember that for 2008, I resolved to stop being angry and stop yelling…it was my New Year Resolution…no joke! As I was still working on it a few years later, I started seeing I just “couldn’t” do it and resolve it and change it….cause it was such sin, a heart issue and only the Lord could change my heart. So, slowly, I stopped working and began praying and confessing to my kids and the Lord. The Gospel is real when I fail and also when I don’t fail, cause after years of being unsuccessful…I know if there are any good, non-yelling days, it SO isn’t me! I’ve been encouraged more and more in this fight…but it’s still real for me too often.

    Here a couple of additional verses I cling to for help and good reminders that it’s not anger and yelling that are effective: Galataians 6:2, “If anyone (my kids) is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”

    James 1:19-21, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

    Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones was a super helpful and great Biblical book for me to read in getting a good understanding of my anger and root issues.

    I’m still praying and confessing and yelling, but Lord willing fighting to break this sin. I look forward to your other posts on yelling. Thanks for being real, vulnerable, and shooting straight with scripture. I’m exhorted and encouraged to continue fighting this!

    Reply
  9. Shannon

    This has been a struggle for me since my oldest turned 4. I never imagined I would be “that mom”! I look back over my prayer journals & Bible studies over the years & always see the same exact issue every single time!! I have not grown in this area at all. Very discouraging. I see the negative impact on my children & how they react to chaos & stress the same way as their mother. Not a pretty picture. It has gotten to the point where my 3 children often times dont respond or quit until I do freak out. I have been so convicted lately of the hypocrisy that I am modeling. I quote scripture, teach Bible studies, listen to Christian music,etc, etc….but I am prone to “fits of anger” on a regular basis. God has got to change my heart & I have got to get a handle on this. Thanks for the encouraging blog. It’s good to see that others are struggling through the same thing…it’s easy to get caught up that no one else has this “secret issue” that we all want to keep hidden.

    Reply
  10. Michelle

    Hi Jess,
    I linked to your post via Facebook. You are so right, these attitudes in our hearts truly are wickedness. The Lord has truly freed me from my habit of treating my children so badly and freed my heart to Love like Jesus does. If you’d like to read more about the process I went through, I can recommend a good ebook. “Empowering the Transfer of Moral Values and Faith” by Marilyn Howshall. Blessings to you.

    Reply
    1. Jess Connell Post author

      Thanks, Michelle.

      I read Mrs. Howshall’s book about homeschooling decisions and it was such a refreshing, and Spirit-led book. I re-read it every couple of years now because it has so much wisdom for LIFE in it, even aside from homeschooling.

      I’ll look into that one as well. Thank you!

      Reply
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  12. Rachael D

    Anger and yelling is sin…but I do find that something else that has helped me is to remove any temptations that lead me in that direction. For me it is lack of sleep. Obviously though I am accountable if I yell when I am tired. But I try really hard to get to bed on time & turn down invites that keep me out. Another temptation for me to get angry at kids is when I fight with my hubby first (opens door for enemy!). I think God can give us wisdom as well…sometimes we need to sit back and ask ourselves what would help us be stronger in His strength. Thinking of Jesus saying, “Whatever causes us to sin, cut it off!!!” I added the exclamation points, lol…if I homeschool & try to chat on the phone to a friend…if I don’t have a realistic routine for my kids’ age/stages & they fight me back…if I try to clean the whole house while ignoring my kids. You see what I mean? I totally agree with what you’re saying, it’s a heart issue. Just something I’ve found for myself. Thanks for sharing: Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough (http://www.parentingandhomeschoolinginfaith.com)

    Reply
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  15. Rachel

    Bless you, dear sister! Thank you for your honesty. This is exactly what I needed and Jesus worked through Pinterest (other than the time we waste on that sucker, I think He’s thankful for it for reasons like this). I work at a school and have been praying and trying to just calm down with the sixth graders I work with. With a whopping dose of generational anger/rage/lack of patience sin, thanks dad, it’s so rough for me to deal with their lack of respect. It’s a sin that I want broken desperately. Your post was just what I needed. Worded the way I needed, pointed, convicting, scripture filled, and tools to use to break it. Thank you, Jess. I think this will be a turning point in that area of my life. I owe you, girl. I owe you!

    Thanks for being obedient and allowing Jesus to use you. Through this post I know countless lives will be changed.

    Reply

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