Mean Mom, Kind Mom
Lysa TerKeurst

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.'" Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

Yesterday we were driving back from the joy called the beach vacation. All total we logged over 20 hours in the car. It was family bonding at its finest.

So, this is what I hear from the backseat:

Ashley: "Mom, Brooke just licked my hash brown! Ewwwwww!"

Me: "Brooke, why would you lick your sister's hash brown for heaven's sake?"

Brooke: "Because my arm hurts."

Me: "Oh. Well that just makes complete sense."

There may have been 127 other instances where the soundtrack of my life was, "Mom…she poked me and she is on my side and she just spilled her drink and she took my book."

My kids were getting on the last good nerve I had and I could feel an emotional eruption bubbling to the surface.

Do you ever struggle with the mean mom trying to come out? Or the mean girl? Or the mean sister? Or the mean wife?

How is it I can be marching along to the sweetest tune and then veer off so suddenly into a bad attitude?

I wish there was one simple fix-it plan where if we follow three steps all tendencies toward emotional eruptions would vanish. But that's not reality. If all we needed to follow was a plan, we'd have no need to follow Jesus.

And ultimately isn't that what life is supposed to show us - that we need to follow Jesus? So what does Jesus say about this? He says we must do three things. But these aren't three easy steps. They are three attitude shifts of the heart.

He says we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

Deny myself…

I have to look beyond the emotions begging to erupt and use self-control. I have to deny myself the momentary satisfaction of the quick comeback, the rude response, and the full out yelling.

Deny myself. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Then I must take up my cross…

My cross. Stop the blaming and finger pointing and wishing everyone else would change…and see my sinful reaction as a negative contribution to the problem at hand. I must take my issues to His cross and see my sin for what it is - sin. And I must be disgusted enough by my sin to truly want to do something about it.

Take up my cross. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Finally, I must follow Him…

Really follow Him. Follow who He is and how He is. I must close my mouth, pause long enough to let Him interrupt my eruption, and let His Spirit redirect me. Yes, my children need to be corrected but I can let the consequences scream so I don't have to. Only a calm mama can think of rational, reasonable consequences that instruct.

Follow who He is and how He is. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

It's amazing how quickly my mean mom vanishes when I deny myself, admit my sin, and choose to let Jesus interrupt me.

Just don't be messin' with my hash brown if your arm starts hurting. Okay? I have to draw the line somewhere you know.

Dear Lord, please interrupt my natural flesh pattern today. I desire to change. I need to change. I realize and admit that I need You, Lord. Help me to stop the blaming and finger pointing once and for all. Help me to follow in Your footsteps today. I want to seek You with all of my heart. For I know that those who seek You will find You. Thank You for this promise. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s interactive website today for an article every mom should read, plus a chance to win a free book!

Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year and she’d love to meet you! Next month she’ll be in Atlanta at Charles Stanley’s church and in Seattle with Jennifer Rothschild at Fresh Grounded Faith.

And if you’d like to transform the mean girl inside you, consider getting a copy of Lysa’s Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl.

The accompanying Bible Study workbook and DVD teaching series, which contains six sessions 15-20 minutes each, are perfect for your Bible Study group or Book Club.

Application Steps:
Do you struggle with your mean girl trying to come out? Ask a faithful friend to hold you accountable to change. It may be difficult to share this personal struggle, but having this honest accountability can make all the difference in the world.

Pray and record verses of God's promises and truths.

How do you deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him? Begin each day admitting to the Lord that you are dependent on Him. Ask Him to help you guide your words, your thoughts and your reactions in a way that would be pleasing to Him.

How do you begin to shift the attitude in your heart? The Lord promises to help those whose hearts are seeking Him. Are you seeking Him?

Power Verses:
Acts 17:28, "For in him we live and move and have our being." (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, "Remember him – before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous E Bancroft said...

I be the mean mommy way too much! But it's so easy to be in denile about it - or excuse myself (I'm tired... I've got low blood sugar... I've got pms...)
But the reality is that it's pride, it's sin, and it's gross.
Thank you, Lysa, for reminding me of what love looks like - Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for not being mean to me when I do more irritating things than my children do!
There's a song - "It's your kindness that leads us to repentance, O Lord. Knowing that you love us, no mater what we do, make us whant to love you." So rather than trying to brow-beat our kids into the good little people we want them to be (which hasn't worked yet...and never will!), let's be more like the Lord and lead our kids into right living with our example of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Christ.

Anonymous Melissa said...

Thank you for this article. I am not a mum yet but i do feel the anger rising up on the inside of me when my loved ones act annoyingly. I must deny myself, carry my cross and follow the way of the Master.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ladies, I was that mean girl this week and after lashing out I felt more disgusted with myself... to the point that I felt like I let Jesus down an he doesn't love me anymore.

After spending some alone time with him and asking for his forgiveness and forgiving myself and my "big mouth" that I silenced the lies of the devil.

Today's devotion is a reminder to me that im not the only mean girl out their struggling to tame the tongue... we are all in this battle together.

Thank you Lysa and God Bless You.

Naomi S.A

Blogger Jessica said...

I just prayed this a.m. that God would redirect me today, as the last few days I have been quite the yeller when it came to my kids making mistakes. I specifically asked Him to show me how to do that. He used you to answer that prayer and I will be printing this out and posting it so I can see it today as a reminder to hold my tongue and follow Jesus!!

Also, I am leading a study this fall at church using "The Bathtub is Overflowing, But I Feel Drained." I have several young mamas that have signed up and if God uses it in their lives like He has mine, it is going to be so awesome! Thanks for all you do to help us turn our focus on Christ!

Blogger Kara said...

I'm pretty sure the hash brown story is straight out of our family's summer trips! I really have struggled this summer with being a mean mom, and I've been pretty sad about it. Thanks for some tangible steps in dealing with myself!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please pray for me. I married the wrong person. Yesterday he purchased a car without my knowledge. I asked him to change his decision and meet me part way. He refused. I don't want to be the mean wife because I know it is wrong, but I feel I have to protect my 2 sons and myself.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, is God's timing amazing or what!!! Last night my husband & I had a long conversation about our behavior. For whatever reason, I have thought he was griping whenever he makes a comment recently. I have repeatedly asked him to stop griping so much. He pointed out last night how much I think he's griping when he's just "joking or messing" with me. The Lord really opened my eyes to myself. I asked him to compromise in how he talks so I can recognize a joking tone instead of thinking he's serious because he didn't sound as if he were joking. I agreed to stop jumping to conclusions and assuming he was griping all the time. I told him I thought each of us need to look deep inside ourselves and try to fix what's wrong with ourselves instead of trying to find out what's wrong with the other one. He agreed. Your devotional today has been right in line with that conversation and my prayers today. I plan to print it and keep it where I can read it as often as I can whenever I tend to be the "bad wife". I am praying for the Lord to help me overcome this sin in my life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have been a blessing. I'm so thankful that I have a loving Heavenly Father to help me overcome the things I struggle with in life. God is good all the time!!!

Anonymous Rhonda J. Smith said...

This is right on time (and hilariously true) as this year's goal has been to be more gracious to my family, particularly my children. I haven't done so well this week. Thanks, Lysa, for helping me to realign my thinking according to the biblical mandate of denying myself, taking up my cross and following Jesus.

Anonymous Kimberlee J. said...

I just linked my blog to this devotional. I needed it yesterday and today. What a good word.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the young lady who posted please pray for me I married the wrong man please if you can get a copy of the book Help Meet by Debi Pearl.

Thank you Heavenly Father for your forgiveness and love!

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