Kate Orson experiments for a week with her Bible to see if it improves her mood. Here’s what she discovered
God is patient, kind and slow to anger. Perhaps as a parent you’ve noticed that parenting goes a lot more smoothly when the Holy Spirit is doing the talking. At other times there’s anger, frustration, or regretted words.
There is so much in the Bible reminding us to be slow and careful with our speech, yet in the moment it’s easy to forget. I decided to spend a week praying on being a calm parent, and meditating on scripture to see if it would make a difference.
I’ve noticed that as my daughter has grown older, life has become more time pressured. There’s more time in school, more homework, more after-school activities. There’s less time for connection. Interactions feel more hurried, and stressful. To add to the stress we just added a new puppy into our house, along with two cats, so it felt like time to make a change.
In terms of the brain science, when we feel stress it signals to our body’s alarm system telling it to act without thinking. This is a survival mechanism, but the problem is that it works so quickly there’s no time to think about whether the threat is a real danger. In modern life there is a lot of everyday low level stress that can feel like an emergency to our brain.
Some of us are more prone to anger than others, and this tendency has its roots in childhood. Previous traumatic experiences wire our brain about how to respond to threat. We might lash out in anger in a way that is similar to how our parents or other caregivers responded to us.
Thankfully we serve a mighty God, who can make the impossible possible. He can heal our wounds, and bring us peace and calm so we are less reactive. The Holy Spirit can step in and do the talking just like Jesus promised he would for the disciples.
I started my week by searching for different Bible verses that refer to anger and communication. I wrote them down on cards to keep with me as reminders. I also decided to read the book of James, as it’s a short book which has quite a few references to the tongue, and how it can easily get out of control.
Almost immediately, I noticed a difference. In that space between deciding I needed to say something to my daughter, and actually saying it, a scripture would pop into my head. It would remind me of the commitment I’d made and I’d think carefully before speaking. God’s word reminded me to slow down, to make eye contact, to be in the moment. Sometimes if I felt a surge of impatience, or anger, God’s word would intercept it, rescuing me from my feelings.
I was surprised how well it worked, just to be more intentional about the Bible verses I read. However, I also noticed how easy it was to slip away, to fall back into habits, to get busy and hurried.
I didn’t have as much time as I’d hoped for prayer, and when I tried to pray my words didn’t come out as clearly and as thoughtfully as I’d envisioned. But it also reminded me that God meets us where we are. As Paul explains in Romans 8, ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.’
After a week I feel like I’ve only just begun with this project, and will definitely make it an ongoing practise to think and meditate on scripture more intentionally.
If you’d like to try this experiment too, here’s a prayer and some of the Bible verses I used.
Dear God, Thank you for the gift of my children, these beautiful beings that you have created in your image. Thank you for giving me the responsibility to love and care for them. Please forgive me for all the times that I have reacted in the flesh and gone against your will. Please God help me to find peace and calm in my parenting. Please ‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. - Psalm 141. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23).
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth (Col. 3:8).
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. Proverbs 29:20, 22
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips ( Psa. 141:3).
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20).
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (James 1:26).
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (Prov. 21:23).
- He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Prov. 16:32).
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Prov. 15:1).
He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. (Prov 14.29).
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Neither give place to the devil. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Eph. 4:22-27; 29-32).
”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6.4).