Ruined For Good

If you have kids, then I’m sure you’ve felt the frustration of having things ruined. Maybe you’ve experienced grape juice on the carpet, scratches on hardwood floors, permanent ink on your favorite shirt, or something similar. Ashley once went up the stairway with a crayon putting tick marks on our freshly painted walls with each step she took. Then she dragged the crayon all the way down the hall to her room. Yes, I said freshly painted walls. I wanted to pull my hair out by the roots!

I’d like to be a mom who handles mishaps and messes with a graceful, “That’s okay, Dear.” But I’m wired with firecrackers in my blood. So, I have to make the choice to let the Holy Spirit reign me in. This means getting into God’s Word every day and praying for Him to give me grace, patience and self-control. I have to make the choice every day to invite God’s spirit to interrupt my fleshly tendencies so that I can have gentle answers that turn away wrath.

God helps me with this through perspective changers. He shows me a different way to look at and process things that trigger my emotions. In response to my frustration with my kids ruining things, He gave me a sweet change of perspective that improved my outlook and diffused my anger.

While visiting Art’s parents, I took a liking to a writing desk in their home. I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I’d love to have it if she ever decided to get rid of it. But she was quick to tell me that she would never get rid of it because it was priceless. She unlatched the fold-down lid to reveal what made this desk so priceless. In a little boy’s handwriting the letters A-R-T were scratched onto the surface. She admitted to being angry with my husband when this happened, but now the scratches that seemed to have ruined her desk are priceless treasures to her. Her little boy’s handwriting is saved for her to cherish and remember. The desk had been ruined … for good.

By Lysa TerKeurst

Sometimes it can be really hard to keep our emotions in control when things don’t go our way. In Lysa’s new book, Unglued, she shares personal experiences and scriptural wisdom to help us make right, godly and healthy decisions with our reactions. Click here to order your copy today!

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  1. 1

    Hi Lysa, greetings from all the way from Mumbai, India! You wouldn’t believe the ‘due-season’ word this is. I am living in a rental and one of the specific command/demand from our landlord was no scribbling on the walls especially when he came to know that I had a pre-schooler and a toddler. And yesterday, my toddler drew and scribbled with a vengeance- scarlet lines in our bedroom. Along with this, the shelf life of most of the things have been shortened due to this rambunctious toddler! I was so LOSING it today when I stumbled upon your writing.

    Thank you so much -” I have to make the choice every day to invite God’s spirit to interrupt my fleshly tendencies so that I can have gentle answers that turn away wrath.”

  2. 2

    This post got me all misty. You are my perspective-changer today. I struggle with being that gracious woman in the face of mishaps, and I rely HEAVILY on the Holy Spirit in this area. My daughter (3 at the time), in one night when we thought she had fallen asleep, somehow managed to get hold of her crayons and drew a mural on two of her walls. All frustrated, I told my boss about it. He wisely advised me to have her help me clean it up, then clear a wall in her closet, hand her a box of crayons and markers, and let her go to town. That in ten years I’d understand. It’s only been two years, but I get it :) Thanks for a great post.

  3. 3

    Watching my own 5-year-old grow up way too fast, I got teary reading this too. This moments aren’t going to last forever, thank you for that reminder. It makes me think of the comment my mom made on the phone one year after my daughter and I had left from a sweet Christmastime together: “I took a couple of days to clean the windows of all of her smudge marks, I miss her so much.”

  4. 4
    Kristen says:

    What a great reminder you gave me. I had just read the scripture that you mentioned so this was a confirmation. I often seem to loose my patience with my children and later wonder if all they will remember is that mommy was mad at them. I have prayed about it but now realize that I need to be much more diligent about asking for God’s help in this department. I was happy with myself the other day when I responded nicely when my daughter told me that she marked on the door how tall she and her friends are. I realized it was a precious keepsake. So I guess God is already starting to work on me.

  5. 5

    I too struggle with these daily mishaps. My kids recently took to having a field day when finding permanent markers- oh and you know those clingy holiday things that you can get at Target to decorate windows? Don’t buy them. My two year old put them on our Ethan Allen table and said table is ruined. Nothing gets that stain out!

    This too shall pass.. (one of my favorites)

  6. 6

    I love this perspective! Gotta admit it made me a little teary…almost to the point that I found myself hoping that my daughter will leave a mark or two that becomes priceless to us, too. Maybe that makes me a little crazy…or maybe just a little sentimental. :) Beautiful reminder!

  7. 7

    What a wonderful reminder of what is truly important. As my oldest son turns 31 today, it is a way for me to remember simpler times of when he was smaller. Thank you

  8. 9

    Great post today! Before the holidays, my son carved “I am epic” into the soft pine surface of our dining table by writing REALLY hard on a piece of paper. It seems like a fine addition to all of the math problems his brothers carved, along with the dog scratches that already grace our custom-distressed table. :) My table is now EPIC, thanks to my son Samuel!

  9. 10

    “wired with firecrackers in my blood” – so well said!
    (me too.) Thank God for His grace!

  10. 11

    Thank you for that reminder this morning. :-) My walls have some knicks in them from my 3 year old throwing toys during tantrums, and there was a time I would have flown off the handle about it. But y’know what, a little spackle and a dab of paint will fix those right up. But if all my kids remember about their childhood is Mommy losing it at little things like a knick in the wall…that will take a lot longer to fix. That’s my perspective.

  11. 12

    I too am” wired with firecrackers in my blood.:” (Love that, but never knew how to express it!! ha!)
    A couple of friends and I are on day 9 of a gentleness challenge so this post was timely to say the least! Thank you for your words of encouragement and confirmation in what I am doing in my life~

  12. 13

    I read this exact post on my Nook this morning from your Unglued Devotional, Lysa. This is confirmation for me. I need to be more like this – understanding the marks are beautiful reminders of gifts from God, which make up the fabric of our lives.

    A reminder to always temper my reactions. I chose to participate in “one word” this year, and mine is Charity. This post hits the nail on the head. An opportunity to show forth charity – love translated in to mercy. The very same way God extends mercy to us.

    Thank you for this post.
    Blessings ~Debra

  13. 14

    Such a great reminder of what’s really important, Lysa. Once when my son was about 3 he scribbled in the front pages of my Bible with a green crayon. I was a bit miffed at first, but every time I see it, I think of him and his sweet innocence.

  14. 15

    What a beautiful post with such an important message. When I remember all the “things” my kids did it makes me laugh even when at the time every one of them seemed catastrophic.

    My son and his friend left the water running in the sink (plugged it) and then forgot until they saw a flood coming out of the bathroom. Ruined the carpet.. but my neighbour in whose house they did this was so gracious – after reprimanding the boys she made them help clean up the mess. Never did she show anger – just dealt with the situation. Such a wonderful memory for me.

    Blessings,
    Janis

  15. 16

    I have shower curtain that is forever marked by my daughter. I remember being furious when I discovered black all over my brand new white shower curtain. But now? I am grateful for it, because I have a daughter that already leaves her mark on the world. She colors outside the line and writes her own story, and she’ll write that story anywhere she can. She’s learned since where markers do and don’t belong, but I pray she never stops writing, I pray she never tires of leaving her unique mark on the world.

  16. 17

    I LOVE this post. It was such a great reminder about what really matters in the long run!

  17. 18

    I like to tell my kids that they are more important than…the dish, the wall, the carpet, whichever. (I still may be seething inside). I just don’t want them to think I value things more than them. But at the same time try to teach them to respect and take care of those things.

    • 19

      I agree, Lisa. I want my children to be respectful of things also. I’m learning patience with my boys. I want them to know they are more important than the things they’ve broken and/or scarred for life. I have little dents in my dining room table where my son would be coloring on his paper and make dots by hitting the paper with an ink pen. My son loves to draw and color. It’s just a thing.

  18. 20

    What a great confirmation. I just wrote a post about the two most powerful words and it fits into what you taught us today. Thanks you. I love the God who loves me enough to give me an “attitude check.”

  19. 21
    Anonymous says:

    Such a good reminder as to where we put or treasure. Once when my oldest was 3 he repeatedly slammed a door until my “precious dishes” fell off the wall. I was so mad and I’m afraid I wasn’t very nice….I found myself apologizing and the next week we worked together to recreate the broken pieces into stepping stones for the garden. Now we have them as a constant reminder of what is important. Someday I’ll give them to him. Probably when his 1st babe “messes” up something precious. And now…when something gets broken or messed up…I breathe and we clean it up together.

  20. 22

    Lysa – this was such a sweet post and such a great reminder.

    When I saw the title of your post on facebook I was so surprised! I just posted a blog post 2 days ago titled “I’ve Been Ruined!” http://womenlivingwell.org/2013/01/ive-been-ruined/

    Similiar titles :) — but it’s me…it’s me that’s been ruined for good :) !
    Courtney

  21. 23
    Vonessa Barker says:

    What a wonderful topic!
    I, myself have always been quite the opposite. Only things done out of meanness or spite will upset me. When faced with artwork on the walls, or unnecessary messes, just look deep in the eyes of your child. Usually, you will see pride or happiness. How can that be scolded? I would simply tell them that what they did looks beautiful, or that it sure looked fun, but then explain in a happy voice why it shouldn’t be done again. I’ve never had a repeat offender, and seldom saw tears. Remember, what seems like common sense to us, does not to them.

  22. 24

    Lysa, what funny timing! I didn’t see your name as the author until I finished reading, and about halfway through your post I thought to myself, “I really need to e-mail this article to all the gals in my mom’s group study!” We’re going through Unglued right now, so imagine my surprise when I saw you as the author. Meant to be!

    Also, your story about the desk reminds me of a text my mother sent me this week. We were just visiting my parents for Christmas. Her text read, “Just noticed Anna’s sweet little fingerprints all over our glass doors. This is the kind of stuff I sometimes found frustrating when I was parenting but treasure now as a grandparent.” Such good perspective!

  23. 25

    Oh goodness… Was this just what I needed today~after blowing my lid with my 4th grader over homework effort, and focus and work ethic. The past few days have been but a tug-a-war of sorts. My emotions always seem to take over when my frustrations are at their heights….. Perspective. I have cried in prayer lately because my heart so wants my son to be of good character… Yet, I show him, well, just the opposite. In this midst I find strength to see Christ…and to see this as a time for both of us to learn. Thank you.

    • 26
      Michelle M says:

      Tif, it must be something in the air. I’ve been struggling with my 4th grader and his homework this week, as well. I haven’t handled the frustration very well. But yet, like you said, I expect him to act calm when he gets frustrated…hmmm. Lysa thank you for the wonderful reminder of a promise I made to myself to parent my children with more LOVE. The rest will work itself out.

  24. 27

    I too want to say “thank you” for this piece/peace. I struggle so often with anger over my granddaughter’s attitude and behaviors. I’m encouraged that others have the same struggle and am encouraged that maybe there’s hope that I will find some perspective.

  25. 28
    Ellie Mae says:

    Thank you so much for this story and lesson. I wish I had read this when my children were younger. I feel as is I was angry all thevtime. I have gotten much better but need that daily reminder to keep praying g for that peace, patience, love and grace!
    Ellie

  26. 29
    Beth Williams says:

    Interesting post! I, too, need God’s assistance in handling my temper. When mishaps occur or things go “south”-not the way I want-I usually go into a little tizzy and get upset.

    I know with prayer and God’s help I can conquer this and be more a more gracious, loving, Chrstian woman.

    • 30

      Hi Beth! I can relate with the out of control feelings you’ve dealt with. You can do it sweet Momma! Please see my post below about the book “Good and Angry” by Scott Turansky. It will bring such peace and change your default reactions. Love!

  27. 31

    Love this article – thank you! To you fellow Mommas with “firecrackers in your blood”, I {highly} recommend the book “Good and Angry” by Scott Turansky. You can get a copy, even used if you’d like, from Amazon. It’s all about ‘trading frustration for character in you and your kids’. I’ve read A LOT of parenting books, but this one handled the anger issue with such grace and practical help and God’s truth. Not only for Mommy(or Daddy), but ways to teach your kiddos how to deal with anger (especially if they’ve seen how you struggle). Anger is not neccesarily bad, but it IS NOT a solution (which is where we usually fail) – it’s a flag that something is wrong. I cannot tell you how much the truth and tips in this book have helped change the atmosphere in our home and given me more joy in parenting. Joy instead of regrets? You can do it Momma – please take the time to invest in the book, it will change everything about the unpredictability of those “firecrackers”. Loads of His Peace & Love to you!

  28. 32

    I know exactly how that feels. My son is 5 and has Down Syndrome but I can get upset with him still when I went in his room one day to find he had colored with markers on his bed, table and his light gray carpet. The marker came out easily on the table and bed frame since they are washable but we had to shampoo his carpet to get the carpet cleaned. I just recently bought him an easle from Ikea so he can draw and write with chalk all he wants. Hopefully not on the furniture or floors anymore. It definitely grows our patience.

  29. 33

    I know exactly how that feels. My son is 5 and has Down Syndrome but I can get upset with him still when I went in his room one day to find he had colored with markers on his bed, table and his light gray carpet. Luckily they were washable markers.

  30. 34

    I know exactly how that feels. My son is 5 and has Down Syndrome but I can get upset with him still when I went in his room one day to find he had colored with markers on his bed, table and his light gray carpet. Luckily they were washable markers. I bought him a Easle at Ikea to let him be artistic on that and hopefully not on the furniture any more. They grow up so fast, we definitely need to remember that.

  31. 35
    Lisa Matthew says:

    An awesome and timely word from God. I so pray everyday that I would alter my reactions to the things my son does. I am still a work in progress…but I do see a difference. But for the grace of God!

  32. 36

    We have 4 teen children…. I am really guilty of flying off the handle when my things get broken or ruined by their lack of good judgement. Lately it’s been something every day… And I need some serious reigning in! I just finished unglued, however I will be re reading it until I can get it right. ( were you in my house when you wrote this?!) it’s so unnerving- yet comforting- to know I’m not the only one. I stuff and I explode… Mostly even I am surprised when I react! Thank you so much for this inspiration and experience- I will be putting it to good use on a daily basis! As I’m writing this there is a crash downstairs…. Sigh….

  33. 37

    We have 4 teen children…. I am really guilty of flying off the handle when my things get broken or ruined by their lack of good judgement. Lately it’s been something every day… And I need some serious reigning in! I just finished unglued, however I will be re reading it until I can get it right. ( were you in my house when you wrote this?!) it’s so unnerving- yet comforting- to know I’m not the only one.

  34. 38
    Marinalva Sickler says:

    I’m not alone. Grandma acting mom 24/7! Wow! I need to hide Scotch tapes otherwise all drawings will be hanging on the wall. I laughed! I needed that!

  35. 39

    I really needed to see this. I struggle with my 2 year old all day! He is so mean and hurtful towards his 8 month old brother. He screams and yells and throws fits like a child who has never been told no in his life! I am at my witts end:( does anyone have any advise on how I can apply grace in these types of situations? Or some verses I can look at. I feel like its my fault that he yells and EVERYONE. I have tried to teach him to be nice and gentle but I fear the damage may have already been done!

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