The circle of guilt will push you around unless it’s kept in check with truth.
“Stop pushing me!”
If you have more than one kid, this is a phrase you are no doubt familiar with.
“MOM!” my little one exclaims, getting ready to launch into a string of tattles, “Bri Bri is being so mean!!!!”
Once again, my daughters decided to break out all of the behavioral stops. In a giant crowd of people, they decided to stoop to the ground to draw in the dirt with rocks. Soon after, they began arguing about which space was who’s…which then escalated into throwing the rocks at each other…one missing and hitting someone else in the leg. Then, they stood up to push each other with their full strength. After I ignored the little ones cries, she decided to take matters into her own hands…
“MOM!” my older daughter wailed, “Lo Lo just punched me in the stomach!!!”
I said my good-byes to adult conversation, and went about my way chasing my little monsters back to the van.
These situations used to happen to me a lot. I never could figure out how to handle the embarrassment, and the watching eyes, when my little girls misbehaved in public. When rocks started flying, that circle of guilt came rushing back in an instant, reminding me why I try to avoid exposing this kind of life strife in the first place.
“Why don’t my kids listen to me?”
“I teach them manners…they get along at home…”
“What am I doing here in the first place, when I should be at home doing things with my kids?”
“They’re all going to talk about me when I turn around and leave.”
“Why am I so insecure as a person as a mother?”
“What’s wrong with the way I am that is bleeding down into a problem that my kids now have?”
“I can’t do this.”
The swift walk to the car, whilst gripping bother daughter’s pinch points, would usually end with this mom taking away every privilege under the sun. I always felt like I was losing my mind as I switched from smiling goodbyes to “most disappointed I’ve ever been in you face” so quickly my kids would laugh at first. Which just made me even more upset and feeling disrespected. Then another circle would begin to whir…
“How can you pray so much…read the Bible so much…go to church…listen to praise music and sermons all the time….and possess no patience to discipline your daughters with compassion?”
From one circle to the next.
That’s how life can be sometimes. Actually, if I’m being honest, that’s how many of my days can be consumed and wasted if I allow that particular thought progression to keep gaining ground. Over every failure, opportunity I’ve walked away from, friendship that has ended, time of life that has passed…I circle…
…until I’m so dizzy that I have trouble focusing on the direction God is leading me.
Life has a way of replaying the highlight real after a corner you’ve decided to turn starts to fade into the distance….shut it down. Remain in God’s Word daily, and run to it in refuge when the outtakes feel humiliating all over again.
Circles will push you around, and there are plenty of people who will to jump on board the ship of thoughts until it’s over capacity and sinking fast.
Do not let these thoughts push you around, and don’t blame them on other people.
“Do you!” preached Pastor Steven from Elevation Church.
Not what other people think you should do, or what you think another person wants you to do. Spend the time with God and do what He wants you do to. Listen for the few voices that encourage you…and turn up their volume. I wish I had.
I wish I could take back a ton of decisions I made in lack of patience to wait on a sure word from God first.
So, what to do with that circle?
Drown in the guilt? Regret? Shame? Keep replaying criticism until the track starts to skip?
Or, run to God. Run it by God. Give Him a chance to talk without interrupting.
“That’s it,” I said to my girls after the rock throwing incident ended in a stomach punched, “you’d better run!”
I took off chasing my two beautiful daughters, for-going that they just embarrassed me in a crowd of people yet again.
“I’m going to tickle torture you!!!!” I yelled and took off running after my two screeching daughters…one who dropped to the ground before I could even get to her, and the other ran just out of reach and the put up her dukes on defense.
In that moment on that day I choose not to be the crazy mom pinching my daughters all the way to the car and grounding them for the rest of their lives. I choose instead to have compassion on them. My daughters do so many things right every day. They get along really well 95% of their lives. Once in a while, the headache we all get from discipline just isn’t necessary.
And I have heard God say to me,
“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children, or you’ll crush their spirits.” Colossians 3:21
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
But I’ve been crushed in spirit.
I’ve walked away crushed in spirit.
I’ve quit, because I just don’t feel like there’s anything left to be crushed.
God has never answered me in crushing moments with a voice of condemnation. Never led me to a verse that said, “I told you so” even though he probably did, over and over. In time, He’ll always show me the err of my ways and help me grow out of that stage of my life. Help me apologize if I need to…humbly go back and finish what I quit if it’s His will. But never, no never, in times of crisis of heart, is He a Father lacking compassion for the child He loves so immensely.
I’m that child. You’re that child.
Turn that voice up.
Let those thoughts push you around.
Live in that circle.