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The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better mom

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to be a better mom and closer to God(Last Updated On: March 13, 2017)

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Growing up, Lent was something only the Catholics I knew celebrated. I didn’t know any Protestants celebrating it until recently. I thought it strange, until I understood Lent’s purpose for believers.

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting or sacrifice, and reflection that precedes Easter. Lent honors Jesus’s season of preparation, fasting, and temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry which would eventually lead to His crucifixion.

The closer I’ve drawn to God, the more I realize Christ has called all His children to live sacrificially, no matter our denomination. It’s not about church tradition. Lent is about preparing our hearts to accept Christ’s sacrifice at Easter.

Mark 8:34 ESV  “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
A lot of Christians focus on the taking up of a cross (bearing a difficult burden) but skim right over denying ourselves. And I really want to understand what it means for me to deny myself this year in a way that honors whom God has called me to be.

In recent years, I’ve given something up quietly, not wanting my sacrifice to be for the eyes of men, but between God and I alone. We sometimes need accountability partners to support us in a season of growth, but I sometimes worry about putting my deeds before men in order to be praised by them.

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the Lenten season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to draw nearer to Christ.

It’s hard to find a healthy balance of keeping things private so that my honor and glory is God’s, not my own, but also being transparent so that I might be a witness. I’m choosing to share what I’m giving up this year because it’s kind of ugly, and I know my brokenness keeps me real and transparent and lets God’s power shine.

This year, when I couldn’t think of something to give up, as I’m already sitting on the couch 24/7 in my health crisis, I asked God what he wanted me to give up, feeling that I as I write and share I need to hold myself to a higher standard daily.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I prayed, “Lord, what can I give up that will be most pleasing to you, what will draw me closest to you and make this a season of deep reflection?”

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Yelling – immediately sprang to mind. And I sadly reflected on how much I’ve fallen back on yelling recently, how angry and hurt the voices in our home sound when we yell.

So this year, I’m giving up yelling for Lent.

This may seem like a bizarre fast. I mean, shouldn’t we strive to give up yelling anyway? Of course, we should, but stay with me . . .

This might seem like a bizarre way to fast for Lent, but what better way to sacrifice. Click To Tweet

Yelling at my daughter is something I’ve worked really hard to eliminate, but being in pain since December, I’ve allowed myself to have a shorter fuse, using my physical discomfort and emotional stress to justify my reactions.

In His Lenten season, Christ learned that suffering and persecution would be his cup to drink, that He would ultimately allow terrible accusations to be hurled at Him while he sat silently . . . silently.

How is giving up YELLING for Lent a sacrifice?

First, I am giving up my selfish right to be upset. I am giving up the earthly perspective that I get to behave angrily because my child has disobeyed or refused to listen. If Christ could be accused, slapped, spat on, whipped, tortured, crucified for me, I can learn gentleness.

Yelling is quick. I get her attention immediately, and I get the instant gratification of indulging my selfish frustrations. Choosing not to yell asks me to give undeserved grace at the moment it’s most difficult.

And it’s going to be hard!

This morning, I had barely started homeschool when my daughter started getting off task. Adorable only goes so far. I was explaining the directions again, and she was deliberately not listening, talking about her dream and her pencil and her new magic trick and . . .

. . .stop talking so I can explain. She didn’t even pause. Honey, I’m trying to get your attention. She rattles on, and I yelled, “STOP!” She froze, her eyes turned to saucers and her mouth stopped moving (momentarily).

Quickly, I clamped my hand over my mouth. I barely made it two hours.

Thankfully, forgiveness and grace redeem our failed attempts at sanctification. I quickly apologized and softened my tone.

But I realized that getting her attention, helping her focus, and disciplining misbehavior are all going to take a lot more effort.

Yelling is easy, but destructive.

Refusing to yell will mean intentionally using close physical proximity and a firm voice. Additionally, I’ll have to follow through on real consequences when she disobeys.

Punishing my daughter often gives me such a heart for God. Imagine how His heart must break when we need discipline. When I have to follow through with consequences, her tears disappointment break my heart every time. Disciplining His sinful children must grieve our Lord so deeply, but I know He disciplines those he loves.

The purpose of Lent is to help us understand Christ’s sacrifice, take some small part in His struggle.

While giving up yelling is something I strive to do anyway, making my house a zero yelling zone for the next 40+ days will be a tremendous way for me to understand Christ’s gentleness and grace.

Because I will be striving to be a daily demonstration of undeserved favor, the quiet spirit God has been growing in me.

I could give up coffee and chocolate or pizza, but while those might be beneficial for my waist line, learning to deny my sinful nature will be more meaningful this year. It will build relationships, improve the atmosphere in our home, and be a witness to my family.

Follow me on Facebook to hear how it’s going.

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23 thoughts on “The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better mom

  1. Giving up yelling. Only God would give that suggestion. Or was it a command? Either way, it is a God thing.
    Press on, Jen, you can do it. And when you cross the finish line, I’m sure you’ll continue in this new habit of speaking with authority and not raising your voice. I look forward to following you on FB to see your progress! Blessings and <3

    1. It’s going really well so far! I’ve noticed my husband isn’t yelling either now!

  2. Thank you for being so authentic and allowing me to take a deeper look inside my own heart. Whether we say our words with yelling or without yelling they can cut deeply and leave some serious wounds. I tend to be a little type A so I can get intense at times. However, that it what I’m working on this season of Lent. Being a quiet spirit and giving up speech which does not edify….

    1. Yes, even as my volume has decreased, I’ve realized there is so much more to not yelling than just our volume, it truly is a heart issue. I plan to write a piece about how to change this practice in your home soon. I hope you’ll come back and check it out.

  3. Whatever one gives up, God is with them throughout the process

  4. Oh that is such a good thing to recognize that you need to give up. I fall in patterns of yelling too and realize that it’s out of my impatience and frustrations that I start to do it…inhaling God back in and exhaling His grace really helps me. Bless your family!

    1. Yes! I’ve found great success in praying and remembering that she is acting out for a reason and trying to have a heart to understand where her emotions are coming from.

  5. Love this concept for lent! It makes so much more sense to me than the things I’ve seen people do in previous years. I don’t celebrate lent (mainly because all holidays sneak up and past me) – but this is definitely the approach I would want to take if I did.

    1. There is no rule that says you can’t start today. The goal is a closer walk with Him. The calendar observation is just because it appeals to us as we head into Easter.

  6. I totally need to do this. I have actually been thinking about how I can stop yelling at my house too. I know sometimes it is needed at our house to be heard. Little boys can be loud sometimes, but like you said, there also needs to be first time obedience so that I am not yelling about things not getting done. This is something I want to flesh out a little more. I know that I have yelling triggers so I want to know them better, so that I can avoid them.
    Good luck, Jen! He will give you the strength that you need.

    1. Six days and so far so good, but Monday morning has been challenging. Relying on God’s strength to change the way we ALL do things. Maintaining my cool while being ignored and disrespected is hard, but demonstrating self-control will be more powerful in the long run and consequences will have longer lasting effects.

  7. Sometimes God calls us to give up things that may seem strange to others, but it’s important to be obedient to His call. I gave up Pinterest for a year and a half when I was in college because it was stirring up discontentment, and I knew that was wrong.

    1. I had to give up HGTV for the same reason! And it brought out a raging perfectionism that was awful! Thank you for the encouragement!

  8. My husband and I just had a conversation about yelling at each other. We may have a good reason to be upset or we may need to get the other’s attention, but we realized that raising our voices is not the answer. Thanks for being vulnerable to share with us!

    1. Yes, yelling isn’t good in a marriage either. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
      ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬ I’ve found I get a lot farther with my husband being gentle anyway.

  9. This is not the first time I’ve heard a mom say she was giving up yelling at the kids or speaking harshly to others. I know that in my currently overstressed life, it is easy to bark at my boys for little things. I’ve turned angry and it does nothing but hurt my relationships with others, my internal peace, but most importantly my relationship with God.

    So glad that you took the time to add this to the 40 Days of Seeking Him link up this past week. I hope you’ll stay connected and share any other Lenten themed posts. While we should do some things in secret, I believe it is by example that many can be called into greater communion with the Christian community.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I am glad I’m doing this. We’ve been yell free! Even my husband has noticed. So far it has really been great for my family and I know God’s work in my heart to be the gentle spirit He designed me to be.

  10. Yelling is perhaps the perfect thing to give up! I pray that you can do it and never turn back! I need to do this myself. (And I thought ice cream would be hard!)

    1. We’re on day four! I only yelled that one word and caught myself so far! It has made for a much better home environment over all.

  11. As a mom I have fallen into the trap of yelling at my kids as well. But once I see the hurt in my children’s eyes, I have this unexplainable remorse that occurs. I don’t think yelling is a bizarre thing to give up at all. I agree if you that yelling hurts and it destories the bond of the people involved. It’s a great challenge and a great thing to give up!

    1. Glad to report we’ve gone 36 hours and it’s been lovely!

  12. Great read! I used to yell at my kids all the time. I found spiritual healing and it has helped. Not sure when the last time I yelled even was anymore. I hope you’ll visit my blog here as well and follow me

    1. Like DL Moody said, we are leaky vessels. Things I thought I had conquered come back in my moments of weakness

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