And other rural legends

Rural legend #1: Pastor’s wives are perfect.


Rural legend #2: Christian moms don’t yell.

I thought this one was true for a long time, because my own excellent mother apparently did not. I have no memories of her yelling, and when I began to shout at my kids, I was horrified. What was happening to me?

Confession: I have a private life of anger.

I am mad every day of my life, about something or other. I have fought this old devil and cried and prayed, and this fall my husband said to me I don’t think you will get victory over it until you are willing to talk to someone about it.

So I made one of the hardest phone calls of my life. I called my pastor’s wife and asked to talk. I wasn’t afraid of her, what she would say; I was afraid of me, what I must say. I was afraid to talk about what I wanted to hide, how bad things get when I lose it.

I chose her because she’s been a mom too, and because I wanted her to push me to change. I asked to stop by and talk for an hour that morning. I knew I’d lose my nerve if I waited.

She responded with warmth and grace to my request. Sure—I’ll be here all day. Come on over. I’ll be helpful in any way I can…

When I drove in her lane, she met me at the door. She made us creamy coffee and then let hers get cold, listening. She set aside all the time I needed, she shared her own stories, she prayed.

I could not think of it for weeks afterward without tears stinging my eyes. Satan told me that I was the blackest of moms, not fit to be called a Christian if I could not win in this area. She told me that I could get up and try again. She told me that she knows what it’s like, that she believes in me.

You see, some Christian moms yell.

Some Christian moms lust.

Some Christian moms self-indulge.

Some Christian moms are lonely.

What is your private life? You don’t have to confess it superficially to many. You need to confess it deeply, to someone.

Human beings were not meant to keep secrets. When we tell them, we rob them of power.

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Mom Coblentz
10 years ago

THANK GOD for godly women that are around when we need them. Don’t know what kind of person I’d be, if they hadn’t been there for me over the years!!

10 years ago

Your last line was absolutely perfect. “When we tell them, we rob them of power.” That was so well put and absolutely true. We’ve all heard it, ‘You’ll feel better, just tell somebody,’ and I guess deep down I knew it was true but I’ve never heard it said like you did. Thanks for this ~

10 years ago

Reading your words makes me tremble because this has been such a real issue in my own mothering. You’re absolutely right about the only solution. God has been too good to me in the way he has given me several dear, godly women who challenge, encourage and call me to holiness.

10 years ago

tears in my eyes, too. the line “I was the blackest of moms, not fit to be called a Christian if I could not win in this area” is so me. satan convinces me that i am the worst person around when i fail at this, and while i know getting so angry and acting out of that IS a sin, when i live in that condemnation (you are the most horrible mother ever) it does nothing but weigh me down and make the problem worse. i am just so thankful for forgiveness. i couldn’t go on without it.

you didn’t exactly say if you yell less (or maybe not at all) since this talk. my one greatest wish for this new year is to be a better mother who yells less and has more patience.

10 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

that’s wonderful, shari! i like your last line in your original post. and i like the idea of accountability. i am sure i will be thinking of you at times when i struggle with getting angry with my girls, and i’ll try to pray for you. we moms need to stick together more, i think. it’s easy to think that others are better than we are, so we try to maintain a sort of facade that only hurts us all.

i don’t think i have commented often on your blog, but i do read it faithfully and enjoy your perspective on life immensely!

10 years ago

I could have written this – except for the visit with the pastor’s wife part. I never recall my mom raising her voice, and was horrified to find out what an angry person I was when I became a mom of toddlers.

But thank the Lord for grace to begin again.

10 years ago

Love this… Amen.

10 years ago

Thank you Shari– for giving me the answer I needed for SS tomorrow. “Dealing w/ Immorality”. How much confession, how much accountability, how much excommunication? I believe I’d be excommunicated if I’d confess the truth to everyone! Heaven help me!!

I believe you hit on the key– and also my own personal fight in this battle– to confess it deeply to someone. Since I’ve told my secrets, I’ve robbed them of power.

And thank Jesus for second chances. Grace. I’m totally behind you and with you on confessing these “huge” “scandalous” sins. May every godly sister bestow grace upon every sincere confession.

10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

I used the last couple paragraphs in SS this morning too. Thanks Shari.

Kim G
10 years ago

Amen…and we need more people willing to give of themselves, to share and listen, believe in us when we can’t believe in ourselves,
without judgement…and point us to Jesus….then it would be so

Irene Bontrager
10 years ago

You are a courageous woman to confess this to your pastor’s wife. Confession and repentance is the key to finding victory to the secret areas in our heart.

10 years ago

I am so proud of you for your courage to talk with her, and I hope I can be as gracious as she was with those who may someday come to me. I’m also rejoicing at the progress I’ve seen in your response to our children. No, it doesn’t fix everything, but the broken power of a secret sin is a huge step forward. One of the proverbs that has been powerful for me is Pro 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Grace to you, love.

Janelle Glick
10 years ago

And I thought that “angry mom” was my special title for 2012! 🙂 In response to my helplessness in my anger, I found (and am still in process of reading) a book called GOOD AND ANGRY, by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. Here are the lessons I’m working with right now:

1. It is not ok to withdraw from my child’s anger. My child needs me to help him process the anger and work it through. Sending him to his room is not ok. Even if all I can do is sit on the edge of his bed, I must stay with him. God never leaves me in my anger.

2. It is possible for anger to be expressed in healthy ways (I am still not good at this – I just go from silent, to tense, to burn, burn, burn….

3. Anger is not the primary emotion – it is a response to the primary emotion of helplessness.

Mama Zook
10 years ago

and Not The Boss knows his mother was not like your mother, Shari…I did yell, and once I even threatened to call Children’s Services and tell them to take them all since I could not deal with it any more! I can laugh about this now, but Cliff was not happy with me saying that!! I didn’t have a mentor or someone to be honest with about my struggles at that point, but I’m not sure I would have been open to telling…still don’t.

Rachel Shenk
10 years ago

Very interesting thoughts, Janelle Glick! Especially #3. And since we are always in control of our actions, it bears the thought process: “Why am I feeling helpless, what needs to change?”

10 years ago

I don’t know where to stop and start. I am so RELIEVED to know I am not the only “blackest of mothers” who yells at her children. Problem is, I have already confessed this in church, okay not the specific of yelling… =) and it didn’t help. I pleaded daily with God to help me be a patient and merciful mom and still yelled, so I was sure it was some big bad black sin way back in my past and didn’t know what to do about it. I have been dealing with past issues in the last year and it has made me calmer, more merciful because I am starting to see God’s mercy to me. Now in the past week, I asked God to remove the controlling spirit from me, and though I am still very needy, I feel peace like I never have before. I don’t feel the need to fix the squabbling children problem or selfish act Immediately. My tolerance level is on the rise. It seems too good to be true, so I’m feeling vulnerable writing it, but I want to praise God for victory!

LaDonna Nice
10 years ago
Reply to  Beth

You nailed it Beth when I have a controlling spirit this is when I get frustrated and angry with my children. Shari may I just say I love your honesty. You encourage me and many others when you let us get a glimpse into your struggles and victories, thank you. I’m wishing we lived closer, but am glad I am getting to know you via your blog. Hugs!

10 years ago

Shari, I admire your ability to share so transparently without dumping the trash barrel on your blog. I wish I could have a better balance with that.

The losing its power line stood out to many of us, it seems; but there was something else that grabbed my attention, too. “You don’t have to confess it superficially to many. You need to confess it deeply, to someone.”

In our current culture it has become rather easy to confess our faults superficially and there are plenty of people to say, “Oh, don’t worry. We all struggle with…” or, “What mom doesn’t…..” laugh. laugh.

When really it’s not a laughing matter.

Oh, I DO believe in community. In non-judgement. What you wrote helped me understand why it bothers me. By confessing superficially we make it common, acceptable, okay. Confessing sin with the horror it deserves is freeing in a much deeper way. Thanks for helping me put words to something that has been unsettling to me.

And my own small confession for the day? I’m relaxing on the recliner behind a closed door while my husband is generously serving supper to and eating with the boys. I didn’t yell today, but I did kind of lose it emotionally.

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