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When My Children Shake Me

When My Children Shake Me

“Are you sorry for snapping at me?”

I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. Shame washed over me as I replayed the outburst in my head. How was it possible that one three-year-old could make my blood boil so easily? I looked at my son, staring at me with his impossibly blue eyes. Waiting for an answer.

Inner-Mary readied her list of reasons why her harsh reaction was justified: You’ve been pushing me all day. You’ve screamed and cried and made unreasonable demands. You’ve disobeyed me, ignored me, and taken me for granted. Can you really blame me for lashing out??

In that moment, a mental image of a water bottle rushed to mind. I once heard author and speaker Paul Tripp share the following example: If I take the top off my water bottle and shake it, what comes out?

The obvious answer: water.

Why did water come out?

Answer: Because I shook the water bottle.

Fair enough. But what if I change the way I ask the question? Why did water come out?

Answer: Because water was already in the bottle.

My son is quite the expert at shaking me up. How easy it is for me to point my finger at him when anger, selfishness, impatience, and laziness come spilling out of me. But he’s never made me react in the wrong way. The reality is this: Every reaction that spills out of me reveals what was already there.

I knelt in front of my son and asked his forgiveness for responding to him in anger. We prayed together, and I asked for God’s forgiveness and help. I asked that God would keep changing my heart so that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be pleasing to him—no matter how much I’m shaken.

Who or what “shakes” you the most? Is it your children? Your husband? People who don’t know how to use a turn signal? We all tend to come up with excuses why someone or something “made us” react a certain way. But perhaps God is using these people or circumstances in our lives to bring to the surface the ugliness that hides in us all.

Left to myself, I will choose selfishness and self-justification. Every. Single. Time. I’m thankful that God loves me enough that he doesn’t want to leave me as I am. Instead, he’s using a couple of tiny little monsters to show me my weaknesses and move me closer to holiness. Closer to him.

And that makes all the shaking worth it.

By: Mary Holloman is the wife of one husband and mom of two stinkin’ cute kiddos. When she’s not preoccupied trying to keep her kids alive, she works and writes for Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center, serves in her church’s college ministry, beats her husband in ping-pong, and then writes some more. Visit her at and follow her on Instagram at @marytholloman.

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  1. Hi Mary! I think this happens with most of us, we tend to look for reasons to justify our anger. This is basic human mentality at times we operate out of our bitter emotions and sometimes it is because of our frustrations of the daily life struggles.

  2. Yes, closer to Him! So worth it!

    Beautifully written, Mary!

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