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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

I Don't Really Want to Hurt My Child

Darcy's training pants were wet again. Again! As I struggled to pull down the soaking pants, I felt a rush of frustration.

"Darcy, you're supposed to come in the bathroom and go in the potty chair.” As I spanked her with my hand, my tension and tiredness found an outlet. Spanking changed to hitting.

Darcy's uncontrollable screaming brought me back to reason. I dropped to my knees. "I love Jesus,” I sobbed. “I don't really want to hurt my child. Oh God, please help me."

As the weeks turned into months, my anger habit worsened. At times I grew so violent that I hit my toddler in the head. Other times I kicked her or slapped her face.

As a Christian for ten years, I was ashamed. "Oh, God," I prayed over and over again, "please take away my anger." Yet no matter how much I prayed, I could not control my anger. I had to be honest with myself—I was abusing her. “Oh, God, I’m a child abuser! Will I kill her?”

I was afraid to tell my husband Larry. After all, he’s a policeman. He’s arresting people for the very things I’m doing. I certainly couldn’t tell my friends. What would they think of me? I led a Bible study. I was looked up to as a strong Christian woman. But inside I was screaming for help.

One day, I realized Larry had left his off-duty service revolver in the bureau drawer. Convinced God no longer loved me and had given up on me, I concluded suicide was the only answer. Then I wouldn’t hurt Darcy anymore. But then the thought sprang into my mind. “But if people hear a Christian like me committed suicide, what will they think of Jesus?” I couldn’t bear the thought that Jesus’ name would be maligned, even if I wasn’t acting much like a Christian. 

One day, I shared briefly with a neighbor friend about my anger. She didn’t condemn me like another friend had when I’d tried to share my pain. She even indicated she sometimes felt angry towards her children too. Oh, Lord, maybe there’s hope for me after all, I cried out when I left her house that day.

From that turning point, God began to reveal the underlying causes and the solutions for my anger little by little. And there were many. I had to learn how to identify my anger before it became destructive. I forced myself to believe God wanted to forgive me—over and over again. Reading books about disciplining children effectively, I became more consistent in responding calmly to Darcy’s disobedience. She became better behaved.

I also copied verses like Ephesians 4:31 and Proverbs 10:12 onto cards, placing them in various locations throughout the house. As I took Darcy into the bathroom, I would be reminded that "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." (Proverbs 10:12 ESV). 

Eventually, I had the courage to share my problem with my Bible study group. James 5:16a admonishes us to "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (ESV). They prayed for me and held me accountable.

Through a difficult process of growth of over a year, God’s Holy Spirit empowered me to be the loving, patient mother that I wanted to be.

I'm thankful to the Lord for healing the relationship between Darcy and me. Today, she is a wonderful wife and mother who follows Christ. She has forgiven me and calls me her best friend.

God also healed our marriage and we’re approaching our 50th wedding anniversary.

Although I wondered during that unhappy time of my life whether God could ever forgive me for the horrible things I’d done, I know now that He has. 

Copyright © Kathy Collard Miller, used with permission.

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