These words have made such a difference:
"This isn't the life you expected. You have turned into someone you never thought you'd become. You used to be this carefree person who had such great hopes for the future. Now you find yourself staying awake worrying about your kids; you are constantly getting on your children; it seems the only time they listen is when you are yelling or screaming. Instead of enjoying your kids, you are frustrated, stressed and angry. Sometimes you don't like them very much. And the truth is that you don't like the person you've become. "
OUCH, but true. That is my confession right there, the confession that many moms rarely admit to themselves or to one another. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!
"The purpose of relationships is transformation: Relationships cause friction...That friction can either result in us being worn down, resentful and irritated; or the friction can strip the crusty, gritty exterior off of us and leave us shinier and better than we were before. So if you have a difficult child or spouse, be thankful. I promise that loving and liking that child or spouse is going to result in you becoming a stronger, more patient, more gracious person than you were before."
That hit me hard, and has struck me over and over again many times as I've thought back on it. This new perspective got me to stop resenting my own spouse and children. This perspective got me to let go of wishing they were different; saying within myself, "If only I had a more patient husband," or "If only I had more obedient children..." This kind of thinking was destructive, and it was inhibiting my own progress and growth.
"Begin by changing you. Let's not even think about our kids or our spouse right now. Because the most powerful person in the world is you. You can either be worn down and shaped by others, by society, by the school system-or you can choose today to begin shaping everyone else NOT by controlling people or circumstances, but by controlling yourself (your anxiety, your emotions, your moods, your choices.) "
That concept has been the hardest one for me, as Kirk would tell you, since he's had to remind me more than once. I am not choosing to be calm to change and control my family, I do it for my own peace. I have to remind myself over and over because looking at everyone else as the problem is a very difficult habit to change. I now have a written note for myself that I keep as a reminder that says 'Control yourself, and ONLY yourself.'
"No matter what anyone does to me, I can still choose to bless them. No matter what my son says or does, I still have the power to decide how I am going to respond (or not respond.) No matter what society says, no matter what the evening news says, I have a choice...Instead of waiting for everyone else around me to change, I am going to be a better person."
This subject is spoken about frequently in many different genres. Man's Search for Meaning, and, The Hiding Place are two books that talk about this principle in the extreme, based on nazi prison camps. I read them years ago, and was touched by the examples I read about, but I had no idea that I could be like that!
"Celebrate your kids' strengths and watch them flourish."
It takes practice to say outloud the talents and strengths of our kids that we see. It takes constant effort for me to continuously compliment and point out the positive, but it gets easier with time. I find that sometimes compliments just roll off my toungue without even thinking about it now, and as we keep looking at our kids' positive attributes, we see more and more, and we see them deeper and richer, and eventually, they see it too, and it's a beautiful cascade that leads to blessings you can not imagine!
"After you read this, take a deep breath. Resolve that YOU are going to be a different person, that YOU are going to change yourself, that YOU are going to see the best in your children and students. And watch your family and classroom begin to thrive."
Catch the YOU. YOU cannot, as I have learned, resolve that your spouse is going to be different; that your relatives are going to change themselves; and that your children are going to see the best in you. YOU can only (and it is enough) to change and control ONLY YOU.
This does not mean you can't invite your family. Once I had some time to practice, we had a Family Home Evening and discussed the family we have been vs. family we want to be. We set goals as a family, and the children and Kevin have all agreed that this is a good goal to work on as a family. It is really liberating and healing for the kids to get to talk about their feelings. It was hard at first, to hear the painful truth from their tiny lips, but it was wonderful to see the healing start to take place as we apologized for the past, and promised with our whole hearts to strive to be better, and we have. We now have a more open, loving relationship with the kids, and they feel like they can come to us more. I say we, but Kevin is in complete control of his path, and I am in complete control of mine. We are growing at different rates and speeds, and sometimes each of us slip back, but we never stop trying, and now looking back, we seem to be a completely different family!
One last note from Ginny: My family has been brought closer by this, and it has brought me closer to my own faith. I am able to pray without inner conflict, look at myself in the mirror and genuinely smile, because I can see the woman God created me to be begin to emerge. I am simply following Christ's teachings of being slow to anger, patient and kind, and loving others as well as myself. Christ's teachings, when acted upon with consistency, heal all wounds, change hearts, and allow people to blossom no matter what age they begin to live them.
“If a woman wishes to control her children, in the first place let her learn to control herself.” –Brigham Young