It was 9:15 p.m. One last episode had been watched. Bedtime stories had been told. Bedtime snacks had been had. It was so late that a couple were ready for round two of bedtime snacks. Our baby was wide awake and screeching contentedly. And no one would go to bed!
It didn’t help how many times my husband and I had asked, repeated, and reinstated that it was bedtime, the kids kept coming downstairs – they needed a drink, their skin was too itchy, “I had a bad dream,” “What was that noise?!” They were plainly and simply not going up to bed.
I was at my wits’ end. I knew I was not being selfish by sending them up to bed – it was two hours past some of their bed times. Facing the morning before school would be a total nightmare, especially for the littlest ones, never mind the rest of us, if they didn’t get their sleep.
But the more urgent need for me, was that the last memory of their mom that night before they went to bed would be of a mom who loved them with all her heart. Not one who snapped.
Gentleness – the key word
“Dear Jesus!” I cried desperately, “You have to help me! I don’t want to lose my temper!”
And almost immediately, I was reminded of the verse, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Philippians 4:5.
That was it! I had to keep doing what I was doing, but with gentleness. That was the key – to do what I needed to do, gently. I knew that there was no way I could do this on my own – by nature I am impatient, bossy and even downright mean when I am pushed to my limits. I knew that I was provoking my children to wrath, (Ephesians 6:4) and I hated the way everything I said seemed to be pushing a button for my kids, so to speak. I wanted so badly to be obedient to the verse that I had been prompted to. “Dear Jesus, you must help me!” was the repeated cry of my heart inwardly. “Help me to speak the truth in love!”
It says in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. … Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
An action word
This was what I needed to do. Gentleness is an action word. It isn’t a nice, soft feeling. Neither does it mean that I am a pushover. It is an attitude of mind followed up with genuine care through my words and actions.
And so this is what I did; first I forgave my children from the heart. Once I had, it seemed so silly that I had been frustrated by my kids just being kids. It opened my eyes to see that they were perhaps insecure that night and needed an extra reassurance of my love.
I did repeat myself again and again – firmly, but gently as the kids trickled upstairs one by one. But I sensed inside of me that Jesus had met me in my need by giving me strength to be kind and tender-hearted. I believe my kids sensed it that night too. Every one of them came back for “one more hug” and soon it was quiet.
I know this wasn’t the last time I will be faced with this scenario, but now I have a weapon toimpatience and irritation with. I am so extremely thankful for the Gospel.
You may be interested in reading more on our topic page about family life or in some other testimonies from parents:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.