Unfortunately, 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.
(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 need 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
- fits of anger
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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