“God, please make my mommy nice. I’m sorry I mess everything up and I don’t listen. I don’t know why I always do this. Please God, make my mommy nicer to me, and make her a better mommy. I’m sorry.”

Gut-wrenching truth. This prayer nearly drowned out by sobs and the heaving breath of my four year old daughter as she lay crumpled in a corner of her room, crying out to her Heavenly Father when her earthly mother’s harsh words wounded her heart.

To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what set me off that day. It could have been having to repeat myself and ask my 3 and 4 year old for the hundredth time to not chase each other through the house. Maybe it was the infamous missing right shoe for the millionth time, while we were already late for work and school in the morning. I don’t even remember the words I spoke to her, it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t the words I spoke, but the manner in which I spoke them to my family.

I was living in a constant and desperate state of being 

overwhelmed

.  I was 

sinking

 and I didn’t want to let anyone know it. I’d succumbed to the idea that as a working mom I had to be able to do it all. Balancing every forty plus hour work week with finishing my degree, to every church commitment, supporting my husband in his ministry, to working out and preparing healthy and delicious home cooked meals, to keeping my house spotless, all the while caring for a three and four year old.

Drowning

. I couldn’t let anyone know, I wouldn’t ask for help, not even God. So I took these unrealistic burdens upon myself. And I failed. If you notice the above to do list, nowhere on it does it prioritize time in God’s word, in his presence, meditating and resting in Him. Enter my very short fuse with my children and my harsh response to being normal kids.

It’s so much easier for us to fall apart behind closed doors and to leave a path of destruction for those closest to us. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you’ve been there and under the pressure to keep up appearances you unleash your wrath on your family. Maybe it isn’t your kids, maybe it’s your spouse.  

In that moment of revelation, that moment of hearing the aching heart of my daughter and her most heartfelt prayer, I heard God speaking to me. 

Have I not given both 

Grace and Mercy

 to you Annette? When you stray, when you falter, when you disappoint, and disobey?

  Utter shame filled my heart.

In that moment I repented. I fell to my knees and prayed with my daughter, I asked her forgiveness.  I asked forgiveness from my Heavenly Father and asked His hand to be present in every word spoken to my children. That I would use words that would uplift and edify and that His spirit renew and refresh my heart and mind when I felt weary. That I would rely in His spirit and direction when speaking to my family.  That I would reflect His grace and mercy in my life, in all areas, not just outside of the walls of my home.

So how can we practically extend grace to those around us?

•             Speak words that build up, not tear down

•             Forgive

•             Apologize

•             Show kindness

“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.”

– Ephesians 4:29

I mediate on this verse constantly. I have it hanging on my refrigerator as a daily reminder. The kitchen seems to be one of the places I want to lose my cool more than any other area in the house, oddly enough.

Friends, when life gets overwhelming and our “to do’s” seem to go on forever, we must always remember that God’s spirit dwells within us.  These moments are opportunities not only to extend grace and mercy, but to teach it to our children.  So let’s love our children well.

There is freedom in grace. Be free.

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About the Author :

Annette Ceniceros is married to an impossibly handsome man named Daniel. She is blessed to have two children, one boy and one girl. She is the founder of Hope Yoga, a Christian yoga practice anchored in Jesus.