One of my favorite people in our home these days is my littlest guy, Knox. Oh, he is such a joy and his smile lights up a room.

The other day he & I snuggled in his plush rocking chair. As he reached for his soft blankie and then yanked his hand back, his tiny little elbow knocked me in the chin. Of course it didn’t hurt, but involuntarily I let out a little “uh” sound. Upon hearing sweet Knox took out his paci, looked at me and said, “Sorry”.Oh. my. lanta. Did I hug him big. Precious.

Saying “sorry” is officially his new trick.

Of course, he doesn’t fully grasp the concept of asking for forgiveness. And I’m pretty sure he associates getting hurt with saying sorry.

Exhibit A) in the backyard he pushed the swing away from him, but (given the 2nd law of thermodynamics) the swing made a return flight and hit him (gently) in the face to which he responded, “Sorry”.

Exhibit B) in the bathtub he pushed his big brother’s head into the side of the tub and said “Sorry”…but then proceeded to push his brother’s head into the tub a second (“sorry”) and third (“sorry”) time.

In the last example, even if he was sorry for hitting his brother’s head against the tub, the behavior didn’t stop.

This is where I get personal…believe me this isn’t a topic that brings warm fuzzies. This post won’t go viral, but its necessary to discuss if we aim for God-centered mothering. You ready?

In studying John the Baptist as he prepared the Israelites for Jesus’ ministry I was reminded of an important distinction. My Bible Study Fellowship study notes asked me to define the words: “confession” and “repentance”. Despite a lifetime in church and great Christian education, I struggled in that moment to describe the words differently. Don’t they both mean you are sorry?

Apparently not…

Confession is admitting a sin has been committed (saying ‘sorry’). Repentance means turning away from the sin towards God.

Repentance doesn’t mean ‘try harder.’ It is a turn in the opposite direction, so your whole life turns toward God as its central goal.

One Sunday morning the sermon focused on “no shame in admitting sin”. My boys modeled unashamed ownership. Without pause Quade wrote down his biggest struggle on the small slip of red paper. Then he asked if we could join the others in line and nail the paper to a cross. Given his quick conviction, I stood in line holding a blank piece of paper, knowing what I needed to write but resisting.

Once I scribbled the word, “yelling”, I heard Price behind me asking, “What did you write, Quade? What did you write, Mommy?”

Right there in the church aisle I confessed the sin to my boys.

Of course, they already knew. Because after every “flip out” moment, I try to apologize and ask for their forgiveness…confessing my sin.

But here is the kicker…do I just keep saying ‘sorry’ without any attempts to stop this pattern?

In studying Matthew and the concept of repentance I was convicted continually confessing isn’t enough. In order to honor God and live a life focused towards Him, I have to turn away from my habit of yelling and trust Him in those moments I’m tempted to “lose it”.

The author of “Orange Rhino” (site written by a fellow 4 boy mom, helping moms to stop yelling) made this point in another way by saying, we find the ability to control ourselves when we’re out in public. Not wanting to look like a “bad mom” motivates self-control. Why can’t I apply that same control when I am in front of our children? The most important audience.

Shouldn’t I care more about what my children think than strangers at a grocery store? These boys are my primary ministry right now and I can do 3 million things right…pumpkin patches, healthy meals, Bible stories, bedtime prayers, back scratches…and sabotage the good with my unharnessed anger.

(to be clear I’m not saying we can every be perfect mothers, but if I am saved by grace and my sins have been paid for, they no longer rule over me. I have a choice to walk away from sin and toward God. Yes, sin will always be my adversary to life God has for me. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can will be victorious in our daily battles.) 

Like most of my posts on this blog, this in my personal conviction on yelling. But we all have a “thing” and I have to tell you, we are all called to repentance…

Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…’ (Acts 2:38)

Repentance isn’t something to make us feel bad or to give us more work. It’s the gospel…seeking a better way…God’s way. Turning towards Him. There is the initial repentance and turning towards God and then there is the daily decision. Because (even though this was written to Jews before Christ’s death on the cross, it’s still true today)…

‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15)

 “Sorry” to hit you between the eyes with this one on a Tuesday, but believe me, the hard stuff gets us to the good stuff.

Can I be praying for you in this area? Feel free to comment below or email me.