6.27.2014

Coffee with Maggie



Maggie talks about the hope found in Romans even when we are overcome by our sin. If it’s a rainy, cool day Maggie drinks a large cup of strong coffee with cream and a little bit of sugar, but if it’s a hot, sunny day she loves Starbucks iced coffee with 2 pumps of classic sweetener and plenty of cream.  

Hope for the Very Angry Mom: Hearing & Believing Romans 8 

As I care for my children, the temptation to anger is always close by my side. When my two year old son is having a tantrum, it’s there tempting me to scream back at him with a scowl on my face. When he is repeatedly disobedient, it’s telling me to say hurtful things. When my son is persistent and stubborn about what he wants, it’s begging me to give him his way and let my heart fill with bitterness. And oh how I give into these temptations more times than not! I feed my flesh time after time, choosing not love but unkindness, believing the lie that my anger will quicken my son’s road to obedience, and then, soon after, I am filled with guilt. I am overcome by condemnation and my conscience accuses me of being “that mom” whose kids will remember her as always angry and always yelling.

This is what my days have consisted of the past few months – battling a toddler while caring for his baby sister. I have experienced some of my worst days as a mom, days I feel like I am a two-year-old fighting my own two-year-old. I have repeatedly given into ugly, childish anger and then been completely enveloped in shame and condemnation for the way I have treated my son. I have felt completely stuck in my sin, not having the desire or the energy to fight against it.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that I have never been more desperate for Jesus. I am desperate for his help, desperate for his forgiveness, desperate for his power to strengthen me, change me and preserve me to the end, and I am more grateful for his perfect life, sacrifice and resurrection than ever before.

This desperation for Jesus and desire to go to battle against my sins of anger and condemnation drove me to listen to a message series by John Piper called How to Kill Sin. In his sermons, Piper explains that Christians fight sin by hearing and believing the word of God. When we “set our minds of things of the spirit (Romans 8:5)” – meaning the word of God – we in turn “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body (8:13)” – our sin. The primary weapon for battling our own flesh is to hear the word of God and believe it with our all of our hearts.

After listening to the series I searched to find what Piper likes to call “fighter verses,” bible truths that speak specifically to my sins of anger and condemnation. I have been writing them out, posting them on my walls, making them backgrounds on my phone and singing them to my kids, so that they will be close at hand to cling to, to HEAR and to BELIEVE! I kept it simple and stuck with these three verses:

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

Love is patient and kind. I Corinthians 13:4

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. II Corinthians 12:9


It is so helpful to have these on notecards posted throughout my house. Before naptime/bedtime routines (some of my most challenging times of day) I try to read them, and when I am in the midst of fighting with my son and feel that prick of conviction after something I said, I lift these verses up in my prayers asking God for help.

But then a few weeks ago, I had one of my most angry days ever and the “fighter verses” just seemed trivial. My expectations of my son’s obedience were in no way being met, and my dreams of catching a “break” slowly shattered to pieces while we fought for two hours about the afternoon nap that never happened. I could feel how ugly the anger on my face looked. I completely gave into my flesh. I blew up at my son countless times. Bitterness was creeping into my heart, and I felt completely numb to the word of God. I had no desire to run to my “fighter verses,” and was feeling totally conquered by my sin.

By evening, during that peaceful hour between dinner and bedtime, scenes from the day flashed in my mind and so began my conscience’s list of accusations:

What kind of mom are you? How can you say such hurtful things? How can you shame a little boy? How will he ever forgive you for the way you have treated him?

I willingly dove into that black pool of condemnation, swimming around in all of its shame and self-pity. Then, when my sweet mama’s boy asked for his dad to tuck him in bed that night for one of the very first times, I sank to the bottom of that black pool. My heart was broken.

As I rocked my baby girl to sleep that night, I cried over the way I had treated my son, I cried because he asked for his dad to put him to bed and not me, I cried because I felt so sick from the anger I had given in to all day, and I cried thinking about the mom I was and the mom I wished I could be. After I rolled around in my condemnation and tried to beat myself up into “getting it together” for the next day, I knew what I really needed was truth – truth to hear and to believe! The Spirit was prompting me to stop listening to myself but my “fighter verses” just weren’t coming to my mind and I didn’t have any desire to open the word and read it.

So there in the dark room, I found a reciting of Romans 8 on YouTube, held my phone to my ear and just listened.

I was hearing – hearing the wonderful news that there is no condemnation, even for a very angry mom, who is in Christ Jesus, because it was already used up on him! I was hearing – that though my body is dead because of sin, I am alive because the very Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead is in me! I was hearing – that I am not a debtor to my flesh, I don’t live according to its wishes of angry outbursts and condemning accusations, because I have been adopted and made an heir of God with Christ! I was hearing – that the suffering and struggle of my day is absolutely nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to me one day. I was hearing – that the Spirit is interceding for me, that he knows I am a very weak, tired mom, prone to anger, a mom who doesn’t know how to pray like I should, yet, he takes my simple cries for help and turns them into perfect prayers just for me. I was hearing – that God foreknew me, and he picked me before time to be conformed into the image of his Son, that he justified me and that yes, even I, the most angry mom on the planet, will be glorified! I was hearing – that the same God who didn’t spare his very own Son, but gave him up for me, will graciously give me all that I need to persevere to the end. I was hearing – that no one, not even my own conscience, can bring any charge against me, one of God’s elect. I was hearing – that nothing in all of creation, not even my huge ugly sin of anger I repeatedly give in to, can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus!

As I listened, my tears of shame and guilt turned into tears of relief, and joy, and gratefulness, as my soul was filled with assurance and hope. When the reciting finished, I prayed over and over that the Spirit would empower me not to just hear but to believe all that I had just heard.

 


I sneaked into my son’s room that night and stole a kiss from him as he soundly slept, my heart feeling lighter and warmer, and my love for me sweet little boy overflowing, completely resting in the fact that the truth found in Romans 8 would be the only way I could wake up the next morning and find strength to keep mothering my children.

I can’t say that since I have been making a more purposeful effort to hear and believe the word my sins of anger and condemnation have become less. In fact, in the middle of typing this I have already yelled at my son a handle of times! However, my Savior is becoming all the more beautiful to me as I let the truth of the word warm my soul. He is the one who already battle the flesh and won the war against sin! I will fall again and again because I still live in a fallen world but I I know that I can “take heart” for he has overcome the world. I will see that in full one day and I will be glorified! This is my hope and it drives me to stay in the “good fight of faith,” by hearing and believing the word, writing and rewriting it, hanging it on my walls, singing, memorizing and praying it, and teaching it to my children so they can remind me of its truth when my eyes are too tired to read and my mind to think. His word will not return void.

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

A little about Maggie:
Maggie Davis is a stay-at-home mom to Josiah (2) and Evelyn (9 months) and despite her battles with anger, really loves everything about being a mom. She is married to Matt who graciously reminds her of the gospel each day, and knows popcorn, m&ms and a movie is just what his wife needs after the kids are in bed. They love playing with their kids, hanging out with their parents, brothers and sisters, and drinking lots of coffee.