Humility, Mothering, Perspective, Relationship

Humility: When We Want to Be Right

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It all began with brown sugar.

The kid wanted one-quarter of a cup of brown sugar in his oatmeal.

Sixteen servings, according to the package.

Almost fifty grams of sugar.

In his cereal.

I insisted that he reduce that amount and, if he still wanted sweetener, to use some fruit.

Yeah, that went over well.

I wasn’t rude in my actions. But, as he escalated, so did I.

We’ve spun in this cycle a lot lately. It’s wearying. Discouraging. Defeating.

I get caught up in the need to get my point across. I want him to understand my side of the issue. To acknowledge it. I want him to acknowledge my authority as his mother and respect this position I hold in his life right now.

These incidences always leave me feeling like a failure. But lately, the word I keep hearing is humility.

As I talked with God about these cycles, He revealed my own pride in the matter.

Sometimes I’m trying to be God in his life.

Sometimes my need for his acknowledgement tips into the prideful desire to be right.

To come out on top.

The thing is, when we both battle for that top position, neither of us achieve it. We both topple into a place of resentment, hurt, and anger.

Funny how God knows right where I need to be in His word. That same morning, I spent time in Philippians 2.

I never considered how the first few verses applied to mothering. These are some of the things God showed me to begin changing the ways I interact with our boys.

Bring my need for affirmation to God. Though God has done a lot of work in my heart, that yearning for affirmation—for validation—still pokes up. It impacts  my interactions with others, including my boys.

God is the only One whose affirmation really matters. What He thinks of me holds more weight than what anyone else thinks about me.

Be Jesus-with-skin-on to my boys. Philippians 2:1-2 tells me these things:

  • I am united with Jesus. But I don’t always live like it.
  • God encourages me. He comforts me with His love.
  • He shares with me from His Spirit. He shows me tenderness and compassion.

Too, often, I let these amazing truths stop with me. I haven’t been good about sharing these qualities with my boys, especially when we are tangled in a battle of wills.

Instead of clinging tight to the gifts Jesus has given me, I need to offer them to my boys. 

Encouragement.

Comfort and the assurance of love.

Compassion and tenderness.

Be like-minded with Jesus. I need to learn to see situations through His eyes, His perspective. Rather than responding out of the filter of past experiences, I need to see my boys—the heated moments, the big-picture situation—through God’s accurate perspective.

Trust that God’s grace is sufficient in each circumstance. His strength is made perfect in weakness. I. Am. Weak.

I’m in desperate need of a renewed mind.

A captured tongue.

When I take a step back from a heated situation, I see that some of what I do is fueled by selfish ambition: that ridiculous need to be right, to win.

Am I an authority figure in my boys’ lives right now? Yes.

But, I need to be humble in how I exercise that authority. I don’t have to exert it in a way that results in an entwined mess of emotions.

Choose humility. Ask in each situation: “What is the humble response here?”

Have the same mindset as Jesus. Take the nature of a servant. In my heart attitude. Am I the one in charge? Yes.

And no.

Often, my heart attitude will dictate how conversations go. How situations resolve. Or don’t. If I have a humble heart attitude, my words will not inflame my boys (as much). 

When I view my boys as valued in God’s eyes, it’s easier to keep a humble heart. 

When the boy came to me a little later, I asked his forgiveness for my tone and words. The great thing about kids is that, often, they’re quick to forgive. And my humility left a happy imprint on his heart. That makes for a much better way to walk out the rest of the day.

What about you? How do you keep a humble mindset yet exercise authority in your parenting? When have you seen humility bring about a good end to a tense situation?

Click to Tweet: When two people battle for the top position neither achieves it.

Today I’m linking up with Holley GerthChasing Community, Jennifer Dukes Lee and the #RaRaLinkup. Come read other great posts!

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28 thoughts on “Humility: When We Want to Be Right”

  1. Love the post and the pictures, Jeanne. There is such powerful, loving Grace in your words. When you write I see that we are truly meant to be the temporal Hands and Heart of jesus.

    It is probably a blessing that I never had kids…do you remember the Kurt Russell film “Captain Ron”?

    “Hey kid, get your own d*** brewski!”

    Humility’s hard for me, not in the context of serving others, but as a reality check I have to do every day on myself.

    I know from experience and comparison that where I am now, I’m by far tougher than I ever was, and harder than anyone I know. I look at my expiring life with an absolutely unsentimental eye, and with humour that is not forced. I routinely make jokes about myself that make Barb wince, and say, “That’s not funny.”

    The humility comes from knowing that a lot of this is manufactured, and ‘exercised’ until it became a part of me. I know that there is an abyss of despair below my feet, and that if I fell in, if I looked at my situation as being as tragic and sorrowful as some around me (including my wife) do, I might never climb out again.

    I would be carried out by Jesus, yes, but I’ll admit the lack of courage of not wanting to put this to the test. I don’t want the fall, and would as soon face the end with a grin and a wave, a lit cigar in one hand and a cold beer in the other. hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts and flip-flops…and oh, yes, my eternal wraparound Oakleys.

    Feet up,mind in neutral, doomed and loving it.

    (I’m hoping this was coherent, Jeanne. Way too ill to try to go back and re-read, so I’ll trust the God that takes care of grunts, drunks, and dumb animals.)

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    1. Ahhh, friend. You have found your way of dealing with your hard situation. There’s something to be said for that. 🙂 Humility does soften us toward others. It prepares our hearts for deeper relationship with Jesus. I think different people wear humility differently. We often face situations in life when we have to choose to give into despair or to find a way forward. Choosing to find the way forward is the better choice. I’m praying for you friend.

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  2. Jeanne,
    I think, with parenting, their comes that place where we’re going to pick our battles. Is it life or death or a decision that affects crucial wellbeing, then we need to assert our parental authority. If it’s merely a case of winning the battle to be right, then you were wise to listen to God’s whisperings and adopt a heart of humility. Parenting is always a fine line between authority and humility….sounds like you’re doing a pretty GOOD job!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, you’re right about picking battles. I keep reminding myself of the question: “Is this a hill I need to die on?” But, sometimes I get caught up in the minutiae of mothering, usually with frustrating results. And again, you’re right. Fighting the battle simply to win over my boy? Never a good gamble–for hearts or relationship. I appreciate your encouragement!

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  3. Parenting brings out all our real life selves — especially in the day-to-day battles to keep them healthy and civilized. You certainly have harvested some valuable insights from this recent skirmish! Blessings to you, Jeanne!

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    1. Yes and amen, Michele. Parenting DOES bring out our real-life selves. And it ain’t always pretty! As long as we continue learning in our interactions with our kids, I guess the mistakes are worth it. 😉 As long as we go back and make things right (when it was our fault…). 🙂

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  4. Even though my daughter is 38 and has teenaged children of her own, I can use these lessons! And how helpful using this life-verse would have been if I’d thought of it this way when my own girls were teens…especially my oldest!

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    1. Debbie, I love that we can learn from others in this blog world. My youngest is a strong-willed boy, and there are days . . . I forget to be humble. But, I’m working on it. With lots of help from God. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  5. Oh Jeanne … I understand that exhausting cycle all too well, and I’m sorry it’s been a struggle for you lately. I so appreciate the insights you’ve shared here. I need to be more intentional about offering the gifts of encouragement, comfort and tenderness to my girls too … especially right now when I barely have time to think, much less consider what my tone sounds like! And I love the suggestion to ask, “What is the humble response?” I’m trying to listen more and talk less these days … that seems to make a difference around here. Hang in there, my friend … you are not alone in this!

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    1. Lois, I need to be more intentional about offering those gifts too. It’s far too easy to put on my Miss-Fix-It hat and tell them what for, rather than to just listen and encourage and comfort and show them tenderness. Especially when they’re acting prickly. God has to keep reminding me the beauty, the value, of listening and coming alongside them. Here’s to both of us becoming better at listening more and talking less. 🙂 Thank you for your encouragements!

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  6. I would love to say that I am humble but humility takes grace in all situations- something I am lacking at times. Humility also takes giving it to God and knowing that His gentle response will go much farther than my quick retort.

    Raising kids is not for the faint of heart. You are doing an amazing job but there are days your humanness takes over. It happens all the time with me. Thank you for the lesson mixed in with real life. Your sons are lucky to have you.

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    1. Mary, I’m a firm believer that we continue to grow in humility. I don’t think I’ll ever “arrive” this side of heaven. Humanness definitely takes over. Especially when I’m tired and worn down. But God. I need to remember He always offers grace in the midst of my failings. And my kids are good about forgiven when I ask too. Thank you for your kind words, my friend!

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  7. A few things I learned about parenting humbly: One is that we have to learn to tolerate delay, kids don’t seem to catch on very fast. Another is that we don’t exercise our authority in order to win a dispute, we do it to nurture. Finally, sometimes kids actually have a point and it may be good to hear them out…that is before we make the final call because after all, we are the “shot-callers” and they need to understand that. 😉

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    1. Gene, I love your lessons learned here. Delay . . . I have one boy who thinks five minutes early is on time. He gets that from my husband. And that innate thing in him that doesn’t want to be singled out for anything. The other boy? Well, let’s just say he doesn’t live by that motto. I loved what you said about exercising authority to nurture. I try not to exercise it to win a dispute, but I’m sure it’s happened, because I know myself. My strong-willed one, though, doesn’t let me get away with that very often (in a manner of speaking). I do try to acknowledge that my kids have valid points too. I need to be better about stopping, considering and listening before responding.

      Thank you for your wisdom, and the reminder that we are the “shot-callers,” even though my teens would dispute that. 😉

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  8. Lovely pictures and prose, dear Jeanne. I’ve been in the same sugar battle. In fact, I’ve also been the one who scooped more than my share of the sweet stuff. Nothing has been more humbling than parenthood. And nothing made my heart as happy as hearing my kids say they’re glad we limited their junk food while they were little (although they still heaped on the sweetness from the sugar jar).
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    1. Thank you, my sweet friend. And you’re so right. Nothing is more humbling than parenthood. I will have to hope that one day I, too, will hear those words about junk food. 😉 I’ve got my struggles with sugar too, though, I sneak mine when the kids aren’t looking (a spoonful of Nutella, anyone?). Yeah, I’ve been working on that. 😉

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  9. These are great reflections, Jeanne. Humility is definitely not easy but as you say, having a humble attitude can make a big difference to how a situation turns out. Jesus’ attitude of humility and coming as a servant is a big challenge to me in a lot of situations!

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    1. Yes, Lesley. Humility is not easy. I’m so thankful God gives us a lifetime to learn this quality, and He doesn’t expect us to have it all figured out after the first, second, or thousandth lesson. May we both grow in handling prickly situations with a humble grace.

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  10. I was introduced to this phrase “Would you rather be right or be happy?” Sometimes people would say to me right makes them happy! lol! Not sure if that was/is really the case. Picking our battles when it comes to children can be so tough. And I know it’s important to recognize if we’re just in a weakened state to be able to show up clear minded. I remember being awfully tired at times! Being able to apologize though, is so important. It’s also modelling humble behaviour. You’re doing very, very good, I’d say, in modelling humbleness.

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    1. Lynn, that’s a great saying. Sometimes we can be right and be miserable because of what it cost to get there, right? I’m still learning how to pick my battles . . . obviously. 😉 And yes, it’s good to realize how I am doing (tiredness, hard day already, etc) and consider this in my interactions with others, especially my family. Thank you for your kind words, friend!

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  11. I love your transparency, Jeanne. I think the best part about your story is your confession to your son. You showed him that you are human, fallible. Yet you made the wrong, right when you humbled yourself before him. We teach our kids lots when we do this. A lot simply by example. My kids are on the “leaving end.” So my “authority” is just that–in quotes. Lol. But we still have to talk about things. It’s great when they are old enough to really reason with you. But there are still times when I don’t do it with grace. Then I’m the one asking for forgiveness.

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    1. We all receive opportunities to make the wrong right, don’t we Dianne? I love that you still talk through things with your kids as they near their launching off time. I hope we can keep those lines open with our boys as we traverse the teen years. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  12. Parenting has a way of humbling you, doesn’t it?! Love the beautiful example you set to ask for forgiveness. We can’t do everything perfectly, but we can still give them examples to remember and learn from in making it right. I think we’ve all said our fair share of I’m sorrys. Seems the Lord uses parenting to teach me more than I teach my children sometimes. 🙂

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    1. Brenda, I think parenting is probably one of the most effective ways for a person to learn humility. And yes, God has taught me so much about myself and about Him since becoming a mother. 🙂 I so appreciate you stopping by!

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