“GET UP HERE RIGHT NOW!!!”
I was screaming and physically shaking at the same time; my anger was just about to boil over.
Earlier in the day I had asked my daughter to clean up her room. We couldn’t see the floor because of all the books, papers, and discarded outfits lying on it, and I don’t know how she found a spot on her bed to lie down at night. Every square inch was covered with something.
I had had enough of the mess and ordered her to clean up her room. Immediately. She cheerfully agreed and promised me the job would be completed by the end of the day.
Later that afternoon I walked upstairs to find a clean room indeed. Not a trace of paper. Bed neatly made. Clothes put away.
Or so I thought, until I opened the door to the adjoining bathroom and began opening cupboards. The scene sent me right over the edge.
You see, my dear daughter had simply taken the clothes from the floor of her bedroom and had tried to hide them by shoving them into her bathroom cupboards. When I opened the doors, everything—dirty socks, clean shirts, even scarves and belts—spilled out onto the floor.
I lost it.
How could this child, my child, have cut corners in this way? How could she dare think she could get away with it? And who taught her to be so lazy?
I quickly loaded up every grievance I had against her and lobbed them in her direction. Loudly.
When I look back on the intense parenting years, the years that most of you are in right now, I tend to remember my mistakes, my loud demands, my anger over what now seem like such small things.
I cringe when I think of those moments—they are hard, if not impossible, to erase.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my daughter as we stood together surveying the scene in her bathroom. In fact, my love for her never changed, but she certainly couldn’t see that. In that moment I didn’t show my love toward my daughter because I was too wrapped up in what had gone wrong.
Of course, reactions like this are completely normal. We’re human. We lose it sometimes. And we carry around regrets like a sack of stones on our back.
This is why I am so grateful that God is not human like us. He does not harbor his anger at us for long. He easily forgives and He easily loves.
I recently read the book of Micah. At the very end of the book I read these words that stopped me in my tracks:
“You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you delight in showing unfailing love.”
After all that the people of Israel had done—they had turned their backs on God for so long—He still did not harbor anger or bitterness toward them. Yes, He punished their sin, but this did not bring Him delight. It did not make God happy to see His people suffer.
Instead, this verse shows me something of the character of God. What brings Him joy, what brings Him delight, is showing love to His people. This is what makes him happy.
This is who God is: love.
When I think of the ways I’ve let God down (along with myself and my kids), I am so grateful that his default mode isn’t anger. I’m actually amazed that God’s default is love. I’m undeserving, but He lavishes His love on me anyway.
Knowing this aspect of God’s character changes everything, especially the way I look at parenting my daughters. I don’t have to prove anything. I don’t have to get angry. I don’t have to rely on frustration as my default mode.
I can love them freely, joyfully, completely—just as God loves me.