We were on a family outing when my 9 year old son blurted out words that rocked me to the core.
“Mama, I feel like you’re the bull— and I”m wearing the red. And you just keeping charging me!”, Josh calmly stated. I winced as the lance stuck into my not-so-thick hide and blood trickled from my flesh wound.
“Well— then STOP WEARING RED!”, I responded indignantly.
Any illusion I ever had of being considered one of those patient, nurturing, Mama’s, flew out the window quicker than greased lightning. My own DNA just told me I was a bull—- a sweating, frothing beast charging at my helpless young. I sat for a moment in awkward silence as those words sliced through my bull-headed brain and landed with a thud in my Mama-bull’s heart.
This was one of those moments when I could either deny the obvious and look like an even bigger fool, or swallow my pride and look at myself in the raw. I don’t like the raw bullish parts of me. Sometimes I’d rather deny them or pretend they don’t exist. Other times I justify my actions with a sarcastic response, “If you’re in the bull pen and you’re wearing red, why are you surprised when you get charged by a bull?!”
But wait! Wasn’t I the Mama who just finished telling my 6 year old daughter, “You are in charge of you. You can’t control your brother. You can only control you.”
Jessie had looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “But, Mama— he grabbed the remote out of my hand. I couldn’t help myself. I HAD to sit on his head and punch his ears until he gave me back the remote”.
I understand my daughter’s logic perfectly. Though I say the words, “I can only control myself— not someone else”… the reality is that it’s just plain hard to control myself when my kids or my circumstances cause my blood to boil. Especially when I’ve been patient for soooooooo long! There comes that magic moment when I morph into a screaming drill sergeant… or what my son calls— a charging bull. My eyes shoot flaming daggers. The veins pop out as I bark orders and issue threats, intimidating my offspring into action. I feel justified. I wouldn’t have to yell, if they would just listen and respond. I accomplished my goal. I got the action I needed.
But, I also wounded young hearts with my anger and sharp words. I know this too well, for my own heart was wounded by the shrapnel of anger and the harshness of words I experienced as a child. Now I was doing the same.
These are moments of raw agony that try to pull me into the black hole of despair and self-loathing. It’s so easy to be sucked into the overpowering vortex of my own inadequacy and lack.
But I have another option. I can fix my eyes on Jesus, and let the stronger power of His unconditional love wash over me like warm ocean waves. I can run to Him in repentance. I can let Him draw me close so He can whisper in my ear, “You’re forgiven. I love you. You are my lamb”
And as I begin to believe, really believe that I am loved—- that I am His, my heart softens and my tone of voice loses its edge.
Oddly, it also changes the charging Mama-bull into a gentle, Mama-sheep. It’s a daily choice of identity. He say’s I’m His sheep. I get to agree… or not. He leaves me free to choose.
But, if you ever notice a wooly sheep with a bull’s head charging across the pasture, know that I’m still in the process of being transformed. So for goodness sakes, run for your life or at least DODGE the horns!