On Lent and the practice of yelling

orchid festival via kimberlyanncoyle.com

Lent snuck up on me this year. The stacked drifts of snow fooled me into thinking we live in Narnia where it is always winter, and the pleasures and practices of spring will never arrive. The idea of new life, of resurrection, feels distant. Even more so, Lent, which I never observed as a child growing up in the church. The Christian life sometimes feel like a constant state of denial, one long life of Lent-en behavior. Isn’t it a little bit more of the same?

Last year, I practiced Lent for the first time. I gave up drinking tea, which is truly one of the loveliest and most comforting rituals of my day. I didn’t care for this practice, not one bit, which is probably the point of the exercise. This year, what with Lent’s stealth-like sneakery, I gave no thought to observing it at all.

Until one of my children came home, disobedient and defiant, having evidently lost their mind. Said child disobeyed repeatedly over the course of a few days. This is the same child who winds me up like a clock until I’m literally cuckoo and crazed. It took everything I had not to burn this place down with my anger, not to shriek from the four corners of our house, not to tear this child down to their bare bones. When I heard the worst of their disobedience, I opened my mouth to let daggers fly out, accompanied by as loud a voice as possible. And in that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me. It’s time to deny myself the cold-comfort of yelling.

It was the kind of nudge you want to ignore and then repent about later. This anger–this fire that runs straight to my tongue and results in me screaming while everyone runs for cover–this is an indulgence of my flesh. It’s one of the few areas of my life, where I give myself an undeserved freedom. I don’t respond with grace, with measured tones, or with a voice I would unleash on anyone else, save those who know me best.

I gave up yelling for Lent. And if the last few days are any indication, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to put this self-denial into practice.

Jesus be near.

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  • I love this! I have one of those kids too,
    and I’m still laughing, yes, Out Loud! You are not only describing him, but
    me as well. It always amazes me how much control this child has over my state of
    being and sanity. Snap! Now I stopped laughing. I guess I need to give up some yelling
    too, then. How easy it is to let that blood boil when my commands, desires, or expectations
    are dismissed with such carelessness. Oh, Lord have mercy, just thinking about
    it and Iā€™m already yelling in my heart.
    And I though cutting out sweets was a big deal…

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Oh, Susan:( I’m sorry we’re both in the same parenting boat! You are spot on about the control issue. My goodness, it’s shocking at how much sway one little human can hold over another!

  • Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    Thank you for this Kimberly. I yelled today, too much, as we explored our new house for the first time. There were so many reasons, so many excuses, but I feel badly about it now – that sweet sweet memory tainted by a crazed (fear-filled) mama. Sigh. Courage to you and grace, Kimberly, in the weeks ahead. I need to find better ways to communicate my fear and frustration and set better boundaries so I don’t end up at the end of my rope so often!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      When you find these “better ways” will you pass them along? šŸ˜‰

  • Marie Bride

    Oh, Dear Kimberly,
    Bless you on your journey.
    I gave up frustration & anxiety (year 3 of doing so for Lent). God is not done with me yet. So as the spirit nudge me to do this once more the spirit that is not of my Lord had a field day putting into practice why the Holy Spirit let me know this was more important than giving up a food or drink item.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks for the encouragement, Marie:) I’m standing with you in faith that this will be a profitable season for us both.

  • I also gave up yelling for Lent! And it’s been a rough few days, let me tell you. So encouraging to read your story and see how it parallels mine šŸ™‚

    • KimberlyCoyle

      “I gave up yelling for Lent” –it sounds like an episode of a crazy talk show;) Thanks for admitting you’re giving it up too, Deedee. Praying for us both!

  • Amanda Johnston Hill

    Oh honey I love your honesty. I found myself yelling at my kids the other day and I stopped myself like “WHY?” Why am I building this memory for them of having a mom who yells? It’s just a habit – one you can and will break. I’ll pray for you during Lent about this specifically.

  • KimberlyAmici

    This is a good one to give up. I’d like to give that one up too.

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