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DefuseA Mom's Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger
By KAROL LADD
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Karol Ladd
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAnger Self-Assessment for Moms
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. -Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV
Since anger is a constant force in our lives, It must be constantly and effectively confronted. -Ross Campbell
I have fond childhood memories of running around with the neighborhood kids playing tag and hide-and-seek. (Yes, this was back in the days when it was safe to play around the neighborhood unsupervised.) One particular game of hide-and-seek is forever etched in my memory. It was the time I found a perfect hiding place deep within the branches of a giant evergreen bush. I remember wondering, Why hasn't anyone ever hidden here before? The answer became painfully clear to me within a few seconds. Wasps had made their home in this most perfect of hiding places!
As you can imagine, I never went back to that hiding spot again. Icouldn't believe those wasps got so mad at me. What did I do to them? Well, I guess I did intrude on their territory and compromise the tranquil safety of their nests. When you look at it from the wasps' point of view, it's no wonder they get angry and sting people. The busy wasps work tediously for days to create a complex, multilevel wasp haven, then some careless kid comes along and disrupts their whole world. All that work completely dismantled by one little kid! What frustration!
Sometimes that's the type of frustration we feel as moms. We work hard all day and night to love and care for the needs of our families, and what do we get in return? A messed-up house, a disrupted schedule, and the exasperation of being pulled in every direction, mixed with lots of whining and very little appreciation. It's enough to make you want to sting someone! And unfortunately that's what we do sometimes. Our words, actions, and attitudes can hurt or sting the people around us-but unlike wasp stings, which heal and soon go away, a mother's stinging words can last a lifetime.
Now, let me reassure you that anger is a normal, God-given emotion. Everyone experiences anger at times, but the important aspects are how we deal with it and how we choose to express it. A pattern of angry explosions is not healthy in building love and communication in our homes, and our kids will likely pick up the pattern of anger in their own lives. I'm sure you don't want your kids to reflect on your anger when they think about you. Neither do I!
So how do we handle our anger wisely? We begin by recognizing what tends to trigger our own anger. We also need to explore any underlying issues that may stir up anger in our hearts and emotions.
In this chapter, you are going to walk through a personal assessment created just for you as a mom. The goal is to help you discover a little more about yourself and what is eating at you both internally and externally. Then in the following chapters, we will examine ways to deal with our anger and express it wisely.
The One Who Knows Our Hearts
If you are like me, you can't see your own heart very well. I can hardly see any of my own issues, but it sure seems easy to see everyone else's. Honestly, it's difficult to step back and take an accurate view of ourselves. We need God's insight to examine and tend to our heart issues. As we begin our soul-searching anger self-assessment, let's start by seeking God's wisdom and direction. He is able to reveal what we cannot see about ourselves. With God's assistance, we can begin to discover the changes we need to make. God is our loving designer and creator. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
King David recognized his need for God's help when it came to understanding himself. In Psalm 139, David acknowledged:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (vv. 1-6, 23-24 NKJV)
When we think about the fact that God knows all about us, it can be overwhelming and frightening at the same time. He knows our thoughts (yikes!), our actions (eek!), and our intent (oh my!), yet He loves us anyway. What an amazing love! His love overflows with mercy and grace! Let us humbly come to Him and ask Him to give us eyes to examine ourselves.
Pray with me: Gentle and loving heavenly Father, You deserve all praise and glory, for You know all things and can do all things. You know all about me. You know how I am wired, how I think, and how I react, yet You love me with an everlasting love. You are truly the Good Shepherd, tenderly caring for my life. Thank You that You are the God who sees all.
Lord, I know You see my heart and the issues of anger in my life. I confess I cannot see my own issues. I need Your help. Help me to take an honest look at the role anger plays in my communication with my family. Ever so gently open my eyes so that I may see and turn from what is wrong. In Your loving way, lead me to a new place, a place of love and kindness. Allow me to reflect Your abundant, grace-filled love in my words and actions toward my family.
Thank You for healing my wounds and giving me the help I need. In Jesus' name, amen.
Anger Self-Assessment for Moms
This is your opportunity to be open, honest, and real. You don't need to show the following self-assessment to anyone. It's yours, and it's personal. (Warning: if you are going to let a friend borrow this book, you may want to tear out these pages or white-out your answers.) There is no final score on this self-assessment because our goal is to learn more about ourselves and uncover how our anger affects us. Our goal is not to slap a label or a grade on our anger in order to see how much better or worse off we are than others. Sorry, you won't be able to go over to your friend's house and compare scores!
This assessment will examine four crucial areas. First, we will take a candid look at ourselves and identify our anger. Then, we will examine our current state of well-being and the factors that may be raising our levels of anger. Next, we will look at specific situations and circumstances-both internal and external-that may trigger our anger. Finally, we will look at how we express our anger.
In order to resolve anger-related challenges, we need to recognize how anger is manifested in our lives. Don't be afraid to be transparent here. Ready? Let's jump right in.
Section One: DESCRIPTION OF ANGER
Identify the paragraph that best fits where you are right now.
You have times of slight anxiety or irritability, but few things rattle you. Agitation is short-lived, and your kids can't even remember the last time you lost your temper. You discipline with firmness and love. You are able to discern what is worth getting angry about and what needs to be dropped. When you are angry, you handle it appropriately.
You experience an increased level of irritation and anxiety when plans change or something goes wrong. You get agitated at unexpected messes or spills and speak sternly with the kids when you have "had enough." There are occasional days when you feel frazzled and short-tempered. When frustration or stress builds, you sometimes lose it with the kids, but you regret it, apologize, and vow never to do it again. You struggle most days not to lose your temper. Little things get to you, and you rarely seem to have joy. You accuse and lash out at those around you. You speak (or shout) before you think because of the anger welling up inside you. At times you worry that you may be dangerous with your words or punishment. You fear losing control. You have lost control more times than you would like to admit. The mistakes or mess-ups of others (usually the kids) feel like a personal affront.
You feel helpless in your battle with stress and anger. You wake up each day just hoping you can make it through without hurting those you love. Yelling has become second nature. The way you express your anger is unhealthy and you know it, but you can't seem to do anything about it. Resentment, anger, and hatred seem to control your inner thoughts. You are a ticking time bomb, and anything can set you off.
At this point, let's go back through the descriptions and reflect for a moment. I realize that there is no perfect description that fits you exactly because you are a unique creation, but I do want you to highlight or underline any sentences or phrases that seem to match you exactly. Ask the Lord to reveal to you any areas of self-denial that need to be addressed. Allow this exercise to be a mirror for you to see some things you typically don't see about yourself-yet be gentle with yourself. Remember, anger is common to us all, and the point of this book is to help us come to a place of handling our anger wisely. If you identified with the fourth level, please find someone you can talk to immediately. Seek help and accountability.
Section Two: YOUR CURRENT STATUS
How would you describe yourself emotionally? Check the ones that describe you.
I am typically ...
Balanced, content, have a general feeling of well-being Worried, anxious, fretful Overwhelmed, frazzled, frustrated Discontent, needy, unsettled Bitter, angry, hostile Beating myself up with guilt and regrets Depressed
What is your current physical condition? Make a mark on each line at the place that seems to best describe where you are right now.
_________________________________________________ Tired all the time Well rested
_________________________________________________ Never take vitamins Take daily multiple vitamins
_________________________________________________ Eat junk most of the time Eat healthy foods
_________________________________________________ Overweight or underweight Healthy weight
_________________________________________________ Never exercise Consistently exercise
_________________________________________________ Often sick Generally healthy
Do you have a chronic illnesses or debilitating pain? _________
Does your current physical state seem to affect your ability to handle anger? _________
Socially speaking, how would you describe your relationships outside of your family?
Generally, I ...
Have several deep and meaningful friendships
Keep to myself and don't interact with many people
Have a large circle of friends and acquaintances Have trouble keeping friends Have difficulty making new friends Enjoy several good friendships but would like to have more meaningful ones
Are your friends a source of refreshment to you? _________
Do you have a friend with whom you can talk about your anger? _________
How would you describe yourself spiritually? Check the ones that apply.
Currently, I ... Have no spiritual input or growth Attend church, but nothing more
Desire to grow deeper in my faith and knowledge of God Am actively growing in my relationship with Christ Passionately pursue Christ in all I say and do at church and at home
Does your relationship with God give you strength in the daily cares of life? ________
What is your financial situation? Check all that apply.
When it comes to my finances, I am ...
In serious financial debt
Struggling to pay the bills each month Spending more than I earn Breaking even with income and outflow Financially stable Regularly saving and investing Tithing at least 10 percent of my income Financially well-off with no worries Is your current financial situation a source of tension and stress? _________
How would you describe your living environment? Mark a place on each line that best describes your current situation.
_________________________________________________ Constantly noisy Generally calm _________________________________________________ Chaotic Orderly _________________________________________________ Dark Bright
Excerpted from Defuse by KAROL LADD Copyright © 2007 by Karol Ladd. Excerpted by permission.
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