Friday, December 18, 2009

The Heart of Anger

I woke up this morning at 3:30 because I heard someone else up. I got up and realized it was my daughter who had gotten up because she was cold and had come downstairs to warm up in the kitchen because she could not sleep. At this point, I am fully awake and not wanting to go back to sleep myself, so I decided to stay up and read my Bible and then The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo. I fully intend to read at the end of each day and then find myself tired and making excuses. Now, no more excuses! We have had a problem for sometime in our home and I keep justifying it and making the excuse, "well, we survived yet another day and I am too tired to deal with my own sin at the end of the day, so I will yet go to bed and wake up refreshed and start the day anew with still the same problems." I wonder how many other parents face this same issue that so few of us are willing to admit that we even struggle with for fear of how we will be perceived by others. I was talking over these outbursts of anger issues I see in my children with my sweet friend, Julie, and she recommended that I read Lou Priolo's book, The Heart of Anger. She said that it was a book that transformed her life and was very eye opening to her own sin. In the past she thought that it was just a problem that her children had. After reading the book, she came to a full conclusion that the problem was not just their sin, but hers also. She faced that sin head on and with the help of the Holy Spirit is a changed woman. Her responses are now different and she is joyful about being a mom. I want that same change in my household, so I decided to take her suggestion and read Mr. Priolo's book and not just "settle" in life. To begin with, I would like to quote some of the book to see if you, too, struggle with the same things I struggle with and hopefully "spark" your interest in getting a copy of the book yourself.
What happens to a person who continually yields the members of his body to a particular sin? He becomes a slave to the sin by which he chose to be mastered. (Rom. 6:16)
What does God call an individual who continually gives himself over to folly? God calls him a fool. (Proverbs 26:11)

Rebellion does not just happen in a child's heart overnight. It goes through a series of steps. First, the child has a wounded spirit or hurt feelings (possibly due to the way a parent disciplined the child or some other offense whether it is real or just perceived). Next, the child grows bitter. Then, angry. And Stubborn. Finally, Rebellion sets in and you see that you have a major problem and need to change.
A rebellious child is a child whose characteristics have gone beyond that of an angry man and assumed the characteristics of a proverbial fool.

25 Characteristics of a Fool:

Despises wisdom and instruction Proverbs 1:7
Hates knowledge Proverbs 1:22
Grieves His mother Proverbs 10:1
Enjoys devising mischief Proverbs 10:23
Right in his own eyes Proverbs 12:15
Quick to anger Proverbs 12:16
Hates to depart from evil Proverbs 13:19
Deceitful Proverbs 14:8
Arrogant and careless Proverbs 14:16
Rejects his father's instruction Proverbs 15:5
Despises his mother (and/or father) Proverbs 15:20
Does not respond well to discipline Proverbs 17:10
Does not understand wisdom Proverbs 17:16
Has a worldly focus Proverbs 17:24
Grieves his parents Proverbs 17:25
Hurts his parents Proverbs 17:25
Will not discuss any viewpoint but his own Proverbs 18:2
Provokes others to strife and anger by his words Proverbs 18:6
A smart mouth usually gets him into trouble Proverbs 18:7
Is quarrelsome Proverbs 20:3
Is a spendthrift Proverbs 21:20
Repeats his folly (foolishness) Proverbs 26:11
Trusts in his own heart Proverbs 28:26
Cannot resolve conflicts Proverbs 29:9
Gives full vent to his anger Proverbs 29:11

As hard as it is to admit, I started seeing this problem in one of my children very early on around the age of 18 months. Most parents would just dismiss it and say that it was just typical childish behavior and that this child would just outgrow it. No, the problem just gets worse with age. I dealt with it, but not always biblical, making it worse. I thought that because I was dealing with it that I was better than the mom who just gave in and gave their child whatever they wanted. In fact, I was addressing the issue and not ignoring it. My sinful behavior was never being dealt with. Then I tried to justify it by using scripture. Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to discipline your child! I firmly believe that the rod of correction used in love will fully drive out the heart of folly within a child. I am just saying that a parent should first examine his or her own heart before dealing with their child's heart and determine the motive for the discipline in the first place and see it as an offense against God and not an offense against him/herself. That is the issue anyway- we have sinned against our Almighty, Heavenly Father when we discipline in anger or provoke our children to wrath by our own sinful response and we need to seek His guidance and counsel first.

I know that this is a long post, but I found a lot of helpful advice in Lou Priolo's book that I was hoping would help others to examine their own hearts. I would like to talk next about whether your home is a child-centered home or a God-centered home. Since it is still very early in the morning I have time that I do not normally have to write this blog post. I hope that someone out there will find it helpful as I have.

The Child-Centered Home

Interrupt adults when they are talking
Use manipulation and rebellion to get their way
Dictate family schedule (including meal times, bed times, etc.)
Take precedence over the needs of the spouse
Have an equal or overriding vote in all decision making matters
Demand excessive time and attention from parents to the detriments of the other biblical responsibilities of the parents
Escape the consequences of their sinful and irresponsible behavior
Speak to parents as though they were peers
Be the dominate influence in the home
Be entertained and coddled (rather than disciplined) out of a bad mood.

The God-Centered Home

To joyfully serve others
To cheerfully obey parents the first time
To not interrupt parents who are speaking to each other
To understand that they will not always get their own way
To work their schedule around their parents' schedule
To have input into family decisions but not necessarily an equal vote
To understand that God has given their parents other responsibilities in addition to meeting their needs
To suffer the natural consequences of their sinful and irresponsible behavior
To not speak to parents as though they were peers but honor them as spiritual authorities
To esteem others as more important than themselves
To fulfill various household responsibilities (chores)
To protect themselves from certain bad influences
To not divide parents over disciplinary issues
To not be more intimate with either parent than the parents are with each other.

Which model best fits your family? Child-centered or God-centered. In the child-centered the child perceives that the entire family exists essentially to please and make him or her happy. Mother and Father and siblings exist only to serve and meet the child's needs and desires. In the God-centered family the child perceives that the husband is the head of the family and the wife is submissive to her husband. Theirs is the primary relationship. It is permanent and exists to glorify God. Children have a secondary and temporary relationship.

As I sat and read Lou Priolo's book this morning I was brought to my knees in repentance. You would think that a pastor's family who places God as first in our lives and faithfully seeks to teach our children about God by having family worship twice a day because we realize the importance of teaching our children about God would be a family that is God-centered and have it all together. We are sinners just like everyone else on this journey called life. In fact, we do not have it all together. We have a long way to go. Many days our life we have a very child-centered, chaotic, and not peaceful home. I began this morning by confessing my sins to God and asking His forgiveness and help to obey His Word. I want to live a life that is pleasing to my heavenly Father.

This book will offer helpful advice on how to have a God-centered home and will address the heart of anger by giving practical help. As I continue to read more, I will write more. For now, God has created us to glorify and honor Him by loving Him and doing what He commands.


Rossie said...

What a wonderful post...thankyou so much for sharing. I will have to get this book, I too have one child that is prone to small outbursts and I question myself as well. Patience, kindness and meekness have beeen on my heart as friuts I am sadly lacking in dealing with my children. I also read the book Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp...FABULOUS book!
My in-laws are inner city pastors in San Francisco, that is where I met my husband. I graduated homeschool when I was 16 and went to San Francisco as an inner city missionary. All that to say, I saw the attack they are continually under because they are such a threat to the enemy, and want you to know that your family will be in our thoughts and prayers. We need to be lifting you shepherd's up in prayer daily! Thankfully I also got to see Christ's victory shown over and over again in the lives of my inlaws! Thankyou for the work you are doing and sharing yourselves with us moms. We are all in it together ;)

Debbie said...


It is so nice to see that someone out there actually takes the time to read my blog and it is encouraging to others. 3 and a half years ago my husband graduated from seminary and we took this position in upstate NY in a snow belt. I am from the Texas panhandle (quite a change). We lived in a city of a million in Louisville, Ky before moving to this tiny town of 250 people. It has been a huge adjustment and very lonely, so I decided to start blogging to hopefully meet others with whom I could share this journey of motherhood. That is encouraging to me to know that you understand some of the struggles we face (California and NY are similar when it comes to the amount of Christians living within the state. NY is around 3% Christian, so you do understand how strong the enemy is at work)and that you will be praying for us. As for Shepherding A Child's Heart, I also read that book back when our first child was very little and we even attended a conference. I cried and repented of my sins back then too, realizing how much I was failing then too. This is something that my husband and I will be working through together. He is a very patient man and a great father. I am thankful for his leadership.