In Others’ Words: Focus

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.” ~ William Ward, English missionary & author

There came a time in my life when I had to face a harsh reality: I was an angry mommy.

I had a lot of aspirations for myself as a mom — spilling angry words and actions out on my young children was not one of them.

I had a choice: Conceal my struggles (and continue to verbally lash out at my son and daughters) or admit I had a problem and needed help.

I hit my knees and wept, asking God to help me, to change me. And, I am so thankful to say that, over time, He did.

But as I read today’s quote, I realized something new. Part of my healing came as I redirected my anger away from my children — even away from myself for failing so miserably as a mom — and channeling that energy toward conquering what had overcome me in my past (abuse) and fueled the anger even to that present day. I stopped excusing my actions — I was tired, I didn’t mean it — and sought hard-won answers.

In Your Words: It’s Monday — today stretches ahead of you, as well as the rest of the week. Odds are, plenty of opportunities await for you to get angry. Where’s your focus? Problems or people? Answers or excuses?

photo by erikdungan/
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  1. March 5, 2012, 6:01 am   /  Reply

    A few weeks ago I lost it w/ one of my grandchildren. I had instructed and explained too many times and hadn’t been heeded. It was a long day, I was bushed, and when same child did same thing one more time, I gripped her shoulder and raised my voice. Prayed a lot about that after. This weekend things were great. It seemed the youngest probably had lost the coupon required for an order I needed to make and I lamented mildly when none of us could find it, shook the catalog (not the child) and phoned to see if co. would honor anyway–they would. Then to my shock coupon was found safe and sound stuck to a page. I apologized and to my joy nearly 8-yr.-old girl told her bro., “She’s saying she’s sorry, but Grandma never gets mad at us . . .” some of the sweetest words I’ve heard this year!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 6:45 am   /  Reply

      One of the things I’ve learned through the years: Children are the most forgiving people on earth.

  2. Jeanne T
    March 5, 2012, 7:29 am   /  Reply

    Great post and thoughts, Beth. I used to think I was a nice person. And then I had kids. 🙂 I struggle, though less now, with being an angry mom. I’m learning to respond rather to the kids, rather than react in anger. One in particular has a knack for provoking me, and he’s getting upset that it’s not working so well anymore.

    I am learning to focus on the problem not on the child, and to go to prayer more quickly. Asking friends who’ve gone before me in this journey for suggestions has also yielded great wisdom.

    So, my focus will be on the problem, and on finding an answer, not giving excuses. Thanks for the thoughts!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 8:17 am   /  Reply

      Love that honesty, Jeanne: “I use to think I was nice person. And then I had kids.”
      God certainly used kids to scrape off my rough edges– expose the weaknesses in my life.

  3. March 5, 2012, 8:01 am   /  Reply

    So profound and full of wisdom, Beth. I find that if I focus on the Lord and spend time with him early in the day, my anger doesn’t have quite the same hold over me. “He is good, He is good, when there’s nothing good in me…”

    Happy Monday! 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 8:17 am   /  Reply

      Beautiful insight about where to focus, Lindsay.

  4. March 5, 2012, 8:12 am   /  Reply

    I tend to get angry quietly. Which is probably just as dangerous as getting angry out loud. Eek. But yeah, I think it makes all the difference how quickly in that moment of anger, we shift our focus. Christ or crisis.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 8:18 am   /  Reply

      Quiet anger is just as potent as the out loud kind, for certain, Melissa.
      And focus makes all the difference.

  5. Beth Vogt
    March 5, 2012, 8:19 am   /  Reply

    I appreciate everyone joining in the conversation today!

  6. March 5, 2012, 9:37 am   /  Reply

    Children can bring out the best in us, but they can also bring out the worst. Parenting is a tough job. We do our best, but those who had less-than-ideal role models have a harder time of it than those who came from warm, loving families. The most important thing is that our children know we love them and that we’re working hard to be the best parents we can be.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 9:57 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Keli.
      Above all else, I want my children to know that, imperfect mom that I am, I love them.

  7. March 5, 2012, 10:10 am   /  Reply

    I love your blog, Beth. You have such words of wisdom, and this post kind of convicted me. I wondered if you were writing it to ME in particular! 😉

    With two little ones at home and my husband home for another four weeks post surgery, I’ve struggled a lot with anger. Life did not turn out the way I planned it. Instead of taking that out on my family I’m trying to turn to prayer and ask God how He planned it. I want to be the kind of woman who appreciates and savors these ‘little’ moments with my family, and turns them to the grace of God. I don’t want them to remember harsh words and angry faces.

    Thanks again for valuable thoughts to start my week!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 10:28 am   /  Reply

      To be honest, Shelley, I almost deleted that post several times. Those less than perfect mom moments … sheesh. So humbling.
      But it’s in those on my face before God moments that I’ve experienced his grace the most — and where I’ve been changed the most.
      Lower the bar these next few weeks, Shelley. Allow yourself to aim for less when life is so demanding.

  8. Loree Huebner
    March 5, 2012, 10:55 am   /  Reply

    I used to get “out loud” angry, but now I know better.

    I know now, that when I used to get loud with my anger, I was really angry at myself…God showed me that.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 11:27 am   /  Reply

      Good insight, Loree.
      I learned, too, that when I got angry at someone else, I was often angry at myself — or something else altogether.

  9. March 5, 2012, 11:00 am   /  Reply

    Powerful here today, Beth. I’ve dealt with seasons of anger. Handled it well some seasons. Not so much during others. Constant learning process. I also think I’m one of those people who flips anger into sadness and turns it on myself lots. Fun! 😉
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 11:29 am   /  Reply

      You are an insightful woman, Wendy — someone who knows herself well.
      And, yes, I’ve turned the anger inward too — and had to learn to be gentle with myself.

  10. March 5, 2012, 12:48 pm   /  Reply

    Well said. This was me at one time too. Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 1:24 pm   /  Reply

      Honesty is one of my core values.
      So … I gotta go where the quotes lead, ya know?

  11. March 5, 2012, 3:36 pm   /  Reply

    It’s far too easy to lose focus, get caught up in the struggles and frustrations of daily life. The kids are sick, they are throwing a fit, the house is a mess, the drain is clogged, the car won’t start. I can empathize that life is, in a word, overwhelming. To say Jesus is the answer sounds overly simplistic. But it is, in fact, the only solution. Only when we cast our cares on our heavenly Father, can we have peace from the chaos.

    But it’s so nice to know that we are not alone in our struggles as mothers. I hate feeling angry at my children, even when it seems they are pushing me to the slim edge of sanity. We’ve all been there. That too, is a way God gives us support to weather the storm. In each other. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Beth. You never cease to inspire me.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 4:16 pm   /  Reply

      Amy, I appreciate your kind words.
      And I do believe moms need to stick together — to know we’re not in this whole mom-experience alone. It’s tough at times — but oh, so worth it.

  12. Karen S. Elliott
    March 5, 2012, 3:41 pm   /  Reply

    This post is most powerful. I have had my demons and such over the years. I get angry (I’m dealing with anger issues with my satellite company and this is the first time I’ve had an internet connection at home in five days). I’m not perfect. I do try to laugh at the small problems and inconveniences. Sometimes you just have to sit down and cry, then wipe your eyes and blow your nose and get on with it. Realize where and when you need to work on yourself. I was a lousy mommy at times, but I’m an awesome grandmother…not that it makes up for it, but I feel a certain redemption in realizing my mistakes and correcting those mistakes with my grandsons.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 4:17 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed — with everything you said, Karen.
      And so, so thankful for second chances.
      And third …

  13. March 5, 2012, 3:42 pm   /  Reply

    I feel as if you burrowed into my head and read my thoughts. I tell my friend that I wish I could have a do-over and be a better young mommy with what I know now. I work with children on a daily basis and not raising my voice out of frustration is a challenge. So thankful that God is stronger than I and can guide me through those challenges.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 5, 2012, 4:18 pm   /  Reply

      There is no do-over on the young mommy years — that’s true.
      But I can continue to strive for a good relationship with my now-adult kiddos. And be ready to hash out whatever needs to be hashed out with them.
      Foundations of relationships.

  14. March 6, 2012, 7:08 am   /  Reply

    Beth, I always appreciate your honesty. Thank you!

    I never knew I had the capacity to get angry until I had kids. They just seem to know how to push our buttons sometimes, don’t they? I’ve gained a lot of wisdom and insight from the book “She’s Gonna Blow”…an excellent resource for moms (and dads)! I’m a daily work-in-progress, but you’ve given me hope that I can make it. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 6, 2012, 2:02 pm   /  Reply

      Ah, the lessons children teach us.
      “She’s Gonna Blow” — an excellent book.

  15. March 6, 2012, 11:54 am   /  Reply

    Your post has helped me look past angry words to the person uttering them. To notice what’s going on in their life to generate the harshness. So far, every single one has a difficulty they are struggling with. That doesn’t excuse the angry words, but it sure provides me with perspective before I respond. Thanks, Beth.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 6, 2012, 2:02 pm   /  Reply

      You’re comment is so grace-filled, Donna. Not that I am surprised.

  16. March 6, 2012, 7:48 pm   /  Reply

    This is wonderful advice Beth. I’m going to be extra aware of my focus this week–thanks 🙂

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