Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Part 2 of Pride and Anger: Accepting Yourself

 "God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference."

This post is Part 2 on parenting exceptional kids.  Click here to read Part 1.  

Lord, make me humble but not yet.

Marriage and motherhood can force us to see ourselves as we really are.  It's hard to accept yourself!

A recent thread on the Facebook group "Not So Formulaic" discussed how we can cultivate love for our difficult child.  One mom, Julie, commented that it's all very humbling when you didn't expect being a mom to be so hard.  She wrote:
"...before I became a mother, I was fairly successful at most things I had tried.  Motherhood has brought out things in me that I didn't even know were there.  I had always been taught that being a parent helps you to grow in holiness, but I don't think I was prepared for what that really meant.  Even though the blackness of my heart is not what I wanted or even thought was in there, I think God has used it to reveal and prune things in me I didn't even think I struggled with."

It can be jarring when the focus on "fixing things" turns from fixing your child's behavior to fixing your mindset.  I remember wanting to scream to one of my kids who was dawdling as we were piling into the car, "GET WITH THE PROGRAM!" when in reality I was the one who needed to chill and adopt some reasonable expectations.  Ginny, of the Facebook group "Not So Formulaic," wrote:
"There was a time that I spent a lot of effort wallowing in my despair, feeling like things were never going to get better and becoming increasingly more convinced that I was raising menaces to society (I'm being dramatic but you get the drift).  I was very angry, and my kids knew it.  When I had a massive fit and collapsed in a heap of tears only to have my 5-year-old kneel down next to me and beg God to save her mommy, that's when I finally resolved to get help."
She writes about this here.  Since then she has developed a treasure chest full of resources for parents having some of the same struggles.  For many of us it takes hitting some kind of rock bottom to let go of our pride and get the help we desperately need.

Getting help may mean a parenting class, counseling or medical consultation for you along with a professional evaluation, diagnosis, and therapies for your child.  It may also mean a big change in lifestyle, job, or schooling choices.  Since anxiety and depression can make parenting even harder than it already is, getting holistic help and re-setting family dynamics are crucial.  Be prepared:  your marriage may improve.  And that's where you can begin to see the hard work and long-suffering pay off.  You are becoming a better person (even if some days you'd be happier to go back to who you used to be).  You are being stretched to the limit and that's when you can grow in humility.

It's refreshing when your struggles lead to a sudden "Eureka!" moment, like one mom, Jessica, describes after finding herself resentful of her son's repeated misbehavior:  
"Wow, how unfathomable is the love and mercy of God.  Because how many times have I sinned the SAME sin a thousand times again and again?  God probably has the same exasperations when I do what He's 'told me not to' over and over...He forgives me as many times as it takes.  He never resents me, He is always completely willing to welcome me back with open arms, even knowing I'll screw up again.  And I realize I'm called to have this kind of love and mercy for my son.  As the Father loves me, so am I called to love my own son."
And that's when you realize that by accepting yourself, embracing humility and asking for God's grace everyday, you are in a much better place than you were before.  Oftentimes it is by accepting your child, and then yourself that your faith life grows by leaps and bounds.  Your marriage and all of your personal relationships can only improve, and you have that difficult child to thank for it.

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