What Potty Training is Teaching Me About Anger

Read the first part of this story here…Of Volcanoes and Scenic Overlooks

And so it was, that, for the first time ever, instead of trying to reason my way out of anger, or willing it to retreat back to the volcanic chamber it was rushing out of, I tried surrender. Not to the anger, mind you, but to God. I said, “OK, God, you’re right, I so cannot handle this. I am desperate not to be a yelling mamma, who wounds and terrifies her children with her words and volume. You told me to come to you, so I do—desperately crying for deliverance.”

And in that moment, the He lifted the anger right off me. I felt the pressure of steam and heat and the hot magma of irrational emotion diminish like a puff of smoke. I still don’t know where it went. I’ve never diffused that quickly from hot rage, so I know it was God. He delivered me.

And then, in the quiet of the early morning, minus the steam venting from nostrils and ears, He gently counseled me and began to teach me about triggers, and what to do with them.

What to do with those nasty triggers…

Triggers are another common word when one talks about anger management. “What are your triggers?” we are asked. This month I’ve become aware of a few of them, and had been trying to avoid them, but they can’t all be avoided, so I usually still have plenty to deal with.

And, due to my previous notion that anger was something I needed to control and overcome, my past strategy for triggers has been to stomp on them. To shove them down into my subconscious and ignore them and the wrong thinking they represent.

But you know what happens when I think I’ve stomped out those triggers? When a child pees their pants before 9am, when the act of serving breakfast totals the kitchen, when plans carefully made collapse with one phone call, when my hope for an afternoon nap is dashed and I somehow still maintain my calm exterior? They have not gone anywhere, they are just glomming together somewhere deep inside me, one upon another, until one more tiny trigger and—BOOM. I will blow my top, guaranteed.

And the simple truth that God revealed to me as I hung the laundry was this:

I needed to apply potty training principles to my anger issues.

 

what potty training is teaching me about anger
The Seth Man. Not only is he potty training, he’s learning to dress himself…or not! lol

 

This month we are half-heartedly, off and on, getting-slightly-more-serious-about potty training Seth. Some days he cues me and we do our business in the potty. Some days he doesn’t. Some days I get all brave and put training pants on in place of the diaper and say, “We are really going to do this now!” And on those days, I know the only way we will have victory is to regularly empty that little bladder, or we will have an accident.

Application: When a trigger comes, I need to deal with it–not stuff it–or there will be an accident.

 

Simple. Very simple. So simple, a sleep-deprived, foggy-brained pregnant momma can get it. Diffusing anger is like potty training. I must make regular trips to the place of relief, or the emotion I carry will overflow.

If this is TMI for ya’ll, I DO apologize, but I can’t not share what to me has been a life changing truth housed in this bathroom-based analogy.

So, I’ve been trying it. When I feel the heat begin to rise, I go to my place of relief: I stop and ask God to lift it from me like He did that morning by the clothesline. When He faithfully does, we then have a nice little chat about that particular trigger, and usually discover what lie I’m believing that led to that trigger, and what truth I can dwell on instead to effectively resolve that source of lava-producing emotion.

And I go about my day with an empty lava chamber, instead of one waiting for one more teaspoon of irritation to send me over the top.

Oh, how I wish I could tell you that in a week I’ve come to complete victory in this area. Truth is, I have not. But I realize, you may not want or need to hear the story of quick and fast deliverance, because you may not have the faith for that miracle. I know I’d have trouble believing an insta-fix story. Maybe you, like me, need to hear of the small, hope-inducing victories that one mamma is experiencing so that you may know that He is with you on your journey, as well.

So, I will keep sharing the bits of beauty and truth I’m finding as I walk this path of Freedom from Anger, and am delighted by any who may join me.

Next time: another strategy God has revealed to me about finding freedom from anger.

Find all of my posts on Freedom from Anger here.

10 responses to “What Potty Training is Teaching Me About Anger”

  1. Char Avatar
    Char

    Amazing post and so simple!!! Give it to God and let Him handle it!! 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
    Thank you so much for reminding me to give it to God and let Him deal with it. He said, His yoke was easy and His burden was light. Matthew 11:28-30
    I have been struggling with anger all too often lately. Battling with my awesome teenage son. I shared this post with him and we have agreed to begin anew and give our anger to God and let Him show us where our triggers stem from. God is sooo good!!! Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Rachel Avatar

    My husband has pointed out to me that I tend to be an angry Momma when I let things build up. If I slow down and deal with what is in front of me, one thing at a time, with proper discipline and the spirit of the Lord (prayerfully), I do better. Lately, when I recognize that anxiety entering into my day I will seek prayer with a sister in the Lord or my husband. We need the Lord everyday! #workingoutmysalvation

  3. Noel @ the Shepherd's farm Avatar

    I echo what the other ladies and you have said. Lately it seems like I could ‘lose it’ at any minute. I’m not sure why I’m so mad all the time, I mean come on, God has blessed my life immensely! I’m still trying to figure out my triggers, I’m sure there’s more than one. Thanks for opening up to us and sharing the struggle. It can feel lonely when you think you might be the only mama who is boiling all the time.

  4. Rachel Avatar

    Trina,
    Thank you for sharing this. I do agree that this is a big struggle in this season of life. I have been dealing with the same issue in my life and crying out to the Lord. Very encouraging post. I look forward to hearing more.
    Rachel

    1. Trina Avatar
      Trina

      ya’ll have been so encouraging as I’ve opened up on this topic! I’m so glad we’re not alone, and the Lord doesn’t leave us without a way of escape. I do have some more posts in the que, I hope they bless you.

  5. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake Avatar

    Trina, Trina, I could say more than can be fit into an acceptable-length comment. It’s not TMI, not at all. I get it . . . and I haven’t even potty-trained anyone yet. 😉 My anger (thus far) is usually not directed at Wendy. It’s sometimes directed at my husband. It’s almost daily directed at our dog. Sometimes it’s not directed at anyone or anything, but it’s still simmering beneath the surface when nap time has been short or the house is a wreck.

    I grew up in what seemed like an anger-less home. My mother never yelled. Ever. She never used harsh words with us, that I can remember. As a mother now myself, I find it incredible that I can only remember ONE TIME that my mother was angry with me. I am thankful, but now I find myself wondering “where in the world is this anger that I feel coming from and what do I do with it? Why am I not like my mother?” I think I inherited my paternal grandmother’s temper, although I haven’t chucked a glass milk bottle at anyone yet.

    I love that you’ve been sharing these things with us. Since my own mother raised us so perfectly (wink wink) it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in my struggles with anger.

    1. Trina Avatar
      Trina

      Ah, Claire! You are SO not alone. Thank you for your comment (btw, there is not an unacceptable-length comment on this blog ;))

      What an example your mother has been, and yet I can imagine the feelings of failure when you compare yourself to her. Have you asked her if she ever struggled with anger and why or why not? One of the most encouraging things I’ve heard this year as I have been seeking freedom from my anger was the testimony of a mother of ten who said she USED to yell all the time, but then the Lord delivered her and she doesn’t yell anymore. at. all. I had never heard of such a thing, and it gave me such hope!

      1. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake Avatar

        You know, I haven’t asked her, but she wants to take me out for lunch when she gets back from your state so I’ll have to bring it up then. She’s currently hiding out somewhere with my father without cell phone reception or email. 🙂

  6. Gayl Avatar
    Gayl

    Great post, Trina! I had a similar experience back when I only had two kids. That particular time I was very angry at some people who had insinuated something about our family that was not right. It hurt and made me angry. But I prayed that God would take that anger away because I knew it was not really going to help anyone. And He did just what He did for you. He took that anger away and I was amazed. It had to be Him because I could not do it myself. Anger is something I have struggled with, too. And it is harder not to be angry when you are so tired and you have needy children, dinner to make, etc. But the real key is surrendering to God because He is the overcomer,not us! Do I always remember that? No, but I definitely don’t get angry as much as I did. It’s an ongoing process like any other thing. We will not “arrive” but we will grow if we continue to read His word, pray and ask for help. So please keep sharing those tidbits! They are encouraging to many, I’m sure!

    1. Trina Avatar
      Trina

      Gayl, I so appreciate you chiming in and confirming what I feel God is teaching me about surrender vs. overcoming. Thank you for sharing your story. The comments on this series are encouraging me so much!!!

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