I used to struggle a lot with my temper towards my children, especially my eldest boy, in the area of his studies. During the run–up to exams, daily blow–ups were a fixture in our household.
After every incident, I would pray and ask God to change me. At that time, we were still relatively new to New Creation Church. I would still deal with sin the same way I was taught in the past. I would confess my sin to God, and ask for His forgiveness. Then, I would vow not to do it again.
I employed all kinds of strategies to try and stop losing my temper by counting to 10, taking deep breaths, leaving the room, screaming into a pillow and beating up a pillow. I even made a poster for my children to wave in front of my face. It read, “Mummy, you are raising your voice! Please leave the room NOW to cool down!” Needless to say, none of these worked for long.
I spent a lot of time after each relapse wondering why God was not answering my prayer and changing me. This sense of failure added to the guilt and worries I had over the impact of my actions and my son’s studies, and these led to even more anger outbursts. I dreaded the year my son had to take his Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). I couldn’t bear to think how I would turn out when I was already so out of control in a normal year.
Now that we are seven months into the PSLE year, it suddenly occurred to me that this year has been incredibly peaceful! The exam is just two months away and I couldn’t quite believe it. Even my children and husband all agreed that my temper had improved a lot this year.
The truth of the matter is, sometime in the middle of last year, my family faced with new challenges that took my mind off my temper problem. The challenges were so overwhelming that I desperately sought Jesus in order to cope. I began to play Pastor Prince’s sermons regularly in the car and also read regularly from grace–based devotionals and the Psalms, and declared out loud that I am the righteousness of God in Christ whenever I felt fearful.
These constant reminders of Christ’s finished work, His unceasing love and my unassailable position in Him, had given me such peace, security and joy to face all the challenges. This deep peace even extended to the area of my son’s studies. I have not used any of those strategies to control my temper this year because the things that used to rouse my anger easily in the past, no longer made me angry.
Because of the challenges, I had to return to work and had even less time to guide my boy in his studies. To counter my anxiety over this, we took to praying together in the car every morning when I sent my children to school. We would start by reminding ourselves of what Jesus has done, and of our righteousness in Him. We would also remind ourselves that all the blessings Jesus deserves, we now receive because of His finished work and that His supply of grace is never–ending. Then, we would pray for God to give my son the desire to study and for God to empower him to act out this desire.
For Chinese language, my son’s weakest subject, we would remind ourselves that God created the Chinese language and that He is the best speaker and writer of it in the whole universe, and because He is with my son, he can draw from Him whenever he needs guidance. Praying daily had really contributed to the peace I had over the exams.
It is very clear to me now that when I was preoccupied with my temper problem and trying by my efforts to overcome it, I was bound to fail. Victory only came when I was no longer focused on the problem, not even on trying to solve it, but focused instead on Jesus and His finished work. All glory be to God!
Thank you, Pastor Prince and New Creation Church for teaching so clearly about God’s grace.