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There are many more excuses than just the 7 excuses of an adult temper-tantrum that I list here, but since this is my personal story, I’m giving you the ones I used to have. After reading, you might be able to identify completely different ones that you practice.

Do your emotions run your life with adult-sized excuses? Did you know that how you deal with your emotions reflects your spiritual maturity? You’d be surprised to learn that many serious parents have never even considered this idea before. In fact, I was just talking to someone the other day who was only just beginning to see how emotionally immature he had been his whole life—not able to get a grip and respond appropriately to life’s challenges.

A Novel Spiritual Growth Idea

Here’s a novel spiritual growth idea for you to consider: Emotional immaturity is immoral because it is self-centered and unloving. Your heart is the center of your emotions (the 7th function of your relational heartbeat) and the place of emotional fitness just like it’s the place of relational fitness. The two are closely linked, because emotions cause us to respond to people one way or another. God wants to work in your emotional responses to help you get a grip on them so you can learn to direct them properly.

More importantly, He wants to increase your emotional capacity for a bigger life lived outside of your own self-interests. If it’s common for wrong emotional responses to derail you every time some little thing happens that sends you into agitation mode, then you will relate with my story.

My Story

My husband's heartbeat has grown more loving toward me and our family over the years...

My husband’s heartbeat has grown more loving toward me and our family over the years…

I remember well how God got my attention in this area so my deeper needs could be met by Him. I grew in emotional strength and stability, and my capacity for a bigger life grew as well.

I was a very young Christian in my mid 30s raising a family. I had learned how to accept some of the wrong things about my life that I could change, but the things I couldn’t change? Well, that was another story. It’s embarrassingly trivial looking so far to my past after decades of growing stronger with each passing year. But I recognize that some of you are beginning to address your emotional responses for the first time, and I remember what a big deal it was for me when the Lord arrested my attention to begin dealing with mine.

My husband was transferred to a new place for his job and being the new one meant he’d have to put in his time working a swing shift schedule. This change really messed with our family and lifestyle. It was a very lonely time for me, but God had great plans that I was unaware of. I couldn’t learn what they were until I finally stopped being so determined to get my life back the way I wanted it.

I couldn’t change it, Jim couldn’t change it, and I had to learn to accept it. But before I finally accepted it, I was insisting on an almost daily basis that Jim could change it. I was blaming the devil for undermining our family. I was praying amiss and couldn’t even hear what the Lord was saying.

The bottom line is that I wasn’t getting my way, and I felt out of control and didn’t like it. I was having a bratty temper tantrum nearly everyday. I would cling to Jim when he left for work, anticipating the pain and loneliness of not seeing him until the following day, begging him to do something about a situation that was out of his control. Poor guy, and yes he remembers this season quite well too. My fix-it guy felt so helpless!

Now, I wouldn’t have called it a bratty temper-tantrum then. I wasn’t flailing my arms out of control like a toddler falling on the floor kicking and screaming. All I was doing was crying to Jim, and I had several rationales that sounded completely reasonable to me. Here are seven excuses for my adult-sized temper-tantrum.

7 Excuses of An Adult Temper-Tantrum

1st Excuse — My kids were going to grow up without their daddy at home in the evenings to tuck them into bed and tell them amazing personalized stories of his childhood adventures. Can you hear the self-pity whine? “But my kids need their daddy!” 

2nd Excuse — I would no longer have my husband’s help at the end of our long days. Can you hear the self-pity whine? “But I didn’t get married to be a single mom!”

3rd Excuse — I would no longer have my easy and perfect lifestyle and homeschooling schedule. Can you hear the self-pity whine? “But everyone else gets to have it their way!”DSCN1635

4th Excuse — Jim and I would never get to go to bed together except on the occasional weekend he wasn’t working overtime (once or twice a month). Can you hear the self-pity whine? “But I didn’t get married to sleep alone and feel like a widow!”

5th Excuse — We wouldn’t have a normal healthy lifestyle schedule like the rest of the world, which really made me feel isolated and lonely much of the time. Can you hear the self-pity whine? “But I didn’t sign up for this! We’re going to miss out on so many things we wanted for our life!”

6th Excuse — In the mornings when I used to do chores and get our homeschool disciplines behind us, instead I would be preparing and serving dinner, and revolving around any other activities that Jim needed to do on his off time. Can you hear the whine? “This is so confusing and out of whack!”

7th Excuse — This excuse probably capped them all! I would have to deal with Jim’s fleshly self-centeredness and lack of concern for my concerns about how I wanted to train our children and do homeschooling. He liked life to revolve around him when he was at home. He also didn’t think at the time that he had anything to change about himself. Can you hear the whine? “But my husband undermines every good thing I’m trying to do!”

The Enemy

Can you see how I could feel undermined at every turn and think the enemy was out to get us? The enemy would have won this battle if I hadn’t begun to listen to the Lord!

There was nothing holy or others-focused about my needy state, no matter which rationale I wrapped it up in. I was my own worst enemy!

The Good Lord worked in every one of these areas and so much more! It’s amazing to me how much bigger He is than our “good” reasons for why we need to do things a certain way! God began to use what seemed like a frustrating, wrong way to live to make my life right. Amazing! Here is how the Lord got my attention.

A Vivid Memory for Both Jim and Me

One day as I was clinging to Jim, crying on his shoulder as he was leaving for work, the Lord arrested my attention and told me to stop it! He then instructed me to go to the bathroom after Jim left for work every single day and pour it out to Him. Thus began the season that changed my life forever! I started to make proper responses to all of my frustrations.DSCN2504

I started to repent, surrender, accept, let go, and cry out to God—not to change the circumstances that had my emotions in such turmoil—but to change me. God left nothing untouched as he purged self-centeredness from my heart and performed a deep cleansing of my soul.

I got a grip and took control over the only thing I actually had any real control over—myself and my emotions. Once God had my attention, I began to learn all the lessons He had in mind for me as a loving heavenly Father who wanted to give me the parenting I had never had.

My undesirable circumstances, once accepted, opened up the way to seek the Lord with my whole heart and let Him change me. I was alone so much of the time that it was a perfect opportunity for me to spend more time with the Lord, learning how to pray and worship in the evenings. as I practiced more and more the art of surrender. The Lord became very real to me as He began to fill me with Himself, meeting my emotional needs right where I was at. He just kept getting bigger and bigger in me as I got smaller and smaller.

You see, all I had seen before was the negative effects the circumstances would have on my narrow and self-centered way of looking at life. Did my rationale have any value? Were my concerns legitimate? Yes, absolutely! I just wasn’t strong enough for these challenges. That’s why I fell apart so easily. But God wanted to make me strong as I went through them listening to His instruction for how to do it.IMG_0666

Do You Believe This Lie?

Don’t believe the lie that says, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This idea just means that your standard of measure for what you can handle is based on your finite understanding as an independent person who wants to run their own life. You’re in essence saying that you know better than God does what you can handle. He is coaxing you to grow up, and that means lots of stretching in ways that make you feel uncomfortable.

God used the situation for my good and turned my life right side up and inside out! As I daily poured out my self-centered feelings to God, and my wrong expectations, asking Him to change me, I grew in emotional strength and stability.

I learned the art of letting go, accepting the things I couldn’t change, but agreeing with all the things I could change as the Lord showed them to me. I took many intentional actions to adapt, to learn flexibility, to look at life outside the box, and cooperate with how God wanted to redeem what seemed lost to me.

What Are Your Excuses?

  • Is your children’s father absent more than normal?
  • Do you feel like a single mom?
  • Do you feel out of sync with the rest of the world?
  • Do you ever have an hour with your husband without the kids around?
  • Do your life circumstances look the way you want them to look?
  • Does your life feel upside down and confusing?
  • Does your husband fail to acknowledge your concerns?
  • Does your husband undermine the good you set in place in your home?
  • Do you feel like you’re the only one who cares about doing things right in your family?

Will you allow God to meet more of your soul-felt emotional needs? When you learn to handle yours correctly, you’ll be able to help your kiddos handle theirs as well. Knowing how to subdue emotions and deal with them appropriately is part of your spiritual growth in Christlike love. True spiritual growth will always address your emotional condition.

“All true spiritual growth addresses and solves life’s relational and emotional problems … There is no such thing as your spiritual life, your emotional life, and then your daily life or your family life; it is all one.”

~ Henry Cloud

Empowered — Healing the Heartbeat of Your Family

Dear Hearts, please share with me in the comments below how you can relate with my story. Did you have an excuse you overcame? I’d love to hear it!

In next week’s blog post, I’ll share with you some of the lessons I learned and how God redeemed what seemed lost to me during that season of my life. It was truly a season of miracles; of God proving to be much more than my small-mindedness about how life should work.

Empowered — Healing the Heartbeat of Your Family

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15 Responses to 7 Excuses of An Adult Temper-Tantrum

  1. Liane says:

    There was a time a number of years ago when my husband had a job change. I had thought we’d make a decision together and consider the various needs of the family. I had considered him in decisions and expected him to do the same. There were a variety of factors about why I had concerns and why the situation was complicated.
    I had been seeking to trust and lean on the Lord.
    I can remember a certain day when it simply became too heavy for me; I found myself crying out from the depths of my heart. I thought how do I go on, and I felt a word in my heart ‘sacrificial love.’
    As the years have progressed, I have realized there was more for me to do at a heart level to gain strength and clarity and press in to the Lord. The journey continues, for sure!

  2. Hollie Johnson says:

    I can relate so well to your story, Marilyn. I used to rehearse similar statements, such as “I’m practically a single mom.” My “tantrums” sure sounded like a toddler and sometimes I all but threw myself on the floor. It’s embarrassing to think about now, but I also smile and feel grateful to the Lord for growing me up. I was like that for a long time before I came to see my immaturity, but when I began to get serious about growth and change, the Lord graciously worked in me helping me to see -bringing correction- that He could meet ALL my needs.I didn’t have to wait for my husband or anyone else.
    I also had to accept my immaturity and not pretend or put a false burden on myself to be more mature than I actually was. As I began the process, I could see how much of a burden I had put on my children to be more mature than they were and more than I was even!
    I have grown so much since then. The Lord has truly strengthened me and continues to do so.

  3. Lydia Eubank says:

    Marilyn, I remember reading your story about those years from past writing. As I started reading this post today, I thought, “Oh, I have already been through this process.” Then I kept reading and realized I am still whining “inside” about people and situations in my life, rather than looking within at how I am the problem in the relationship. There are things in me that need changing, and only Father can teach me how to move forward and love others when I don’t think things are PERFECT….meaning “my way.” 🙂
    I needed this post as a reminder of the growth still needed in my own life. I change and then the love I can share increases. Thank you for this writing.

  4. Stephanie Coy says:

    Marilyn, thank you for this article! It is a blessing to me, as we have been very quickly thrust into a time of having to move out of our current home and simultaneously move Reid’s parents out of their longtime home. I am rejoicing in the Lord because I can imagine how this would have looked for me in the past: lots of distress at the uncertainty of the outcome, stressed because of all the relational difficulties, anxious about all the details of it all and putting all of that onto my husband! I feel a quietness in my soul at the outcome and am feeling the Lord’s wonderful peace flood my heart. When I feel the anxiety or stress come up, I take it to the Lord and offer it up to Him.

  5. Sara Grobler says:

    I have learned to surpress negative emotions, but not to allow God to spiritually mature me – BIG DIFFERENCE!. I encounter a persistent internal dialogue which revolves around self-pity, e.g. “my husband doesn’t really listen to me” ; “my husband’s financial mismanagement has us in financial dire straits, despite all my financial sacrifices” (it is not fair); “I have so many duties and responsibilities, admist ongoing health struggles” (self-centered, self-focused); “I never get any time off or time to myself” (self-centeredness instead of gratitude); “with my auto-immune diet, I can not eat what others can or what i want to eat” (self-pity). I am consistently convicted and corrected by the Holy Spirit and yet I lapse back into these patterns of thinking and behaving and cannot seem to get out of this downward spiral and into the power of the resurrection life. I realise the vanity, depravity and poverty of my human flesh and so desperately desire to be free from self.

    • Laurel says:

      Sara, I identify with you in every area you mentioned. This is tough and it is especially not easy to keep the right ” mindset” when suffering in your health, which effects your mental well being. And, the overwhelming responsibilities on top of that. Sigh’…
      what do we do? Continue taking it to our Father and crying to Him and learning to be thankful to Him, even the small things. He is there even when life feels like ” it’s too much.” One day, one moment , one breath at a time is how I live and I have to cling to God in Everything and in every way. You are not alone bc I’m here too and understand. Hugs..

  6. Bernise Bernard says:

    Thank you for sharing this part of your story, Marilyn! I can so relate to it! In 2008, our family moved to a different state so my husband could go to college. I found myself living in my parent’s home with three young children and a husband who was working full-time and going to school full-time. I spent the first few months doing a whole lot of feeling sorry for myself and feeling that life was so UNFAIR! But I remember the moment when God got my attention: I was doing laundry, in my mom’s laundry room, and my eyes fell on a little picture she had hanging on the wall. It was a flower and it said “Bloom Where Planted”. My whole perspective began to change after that moment. I realized that this time was a gift; it was an opportunity to press in like never before. I began to submit to where God had me and what He wanted to do in me through my circumstances and those two years became a season of coming to know Him and experiencing His love like I never had before. At the time, I would have said that I was in one of the most challenging times of my life, but now I look back on it with a great deal of fondness. I wouldn’t trade that season for anything. I know I still have more growth ahead of me, but I am so grateful to the Lord for all the work in me that He has done and for bringing me to this ministry which was the next big push forward in my walk with Him! He is so faithful! Much love, Leah

  7. Psalm139 says:

    Marilyn, Noticeably missing is any mention of whether you had any Christian friends, relatives or a church family during that season of your life to offer you support. Could you remark on that?

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  9. Holly says:

    Thank you Marilyn! I am currently seeking counseling for this very issue! After 17 YEARS of trying to cope with my husbands choice of career, I thought I could handle it. I was wrong, I hit another wall. I feel so frustrated, lonely, & powerless. He works away from home for weeks & months at a time (without coming home) in the spring & summer; then sometimes not at all in winter. As he comes & goes, it creates countless issues that I have absolutely no control over. I have expressed my opinions & feelings to him but each time I get put down & let down. This goes against how I want to raise our children. It isn’t what God intends for our lives. Our marriage is in ruins because he expects me to accept this life and as hard as I’ve tried I just can’t. Huge adult temper tantrums and self pity ensue daily. I cannot see a clear answer for me.

    • Laurel says:

      Holly, did anyone ever respond to you? A spouse being gone a large part of the time, most definitely, can take a toll on ANYONE. I think you have every right to cry and feel a little selfish about it. (Gulp! Did I just write that…????). I do think it can be a serious issue that can tear marriages apart and I would think that you and your husband need to find some kind of compromise. When he is home, do you & the kids spend quality time together? How long does he plan to work this job?
      Do you have a plan for your life to fill your void while he’s gone? Get involved in hobbies, volunteer, get a job? I would suggest asking God how you can make this “life of hard,” a good life for His sake? What would He have you do? And, if your hubby should eventually leave this job, ask God to put it on his heart. I, personally, have found that I can’t change my husband but God can. Hugs and blessings to you.

  10. Sarah N says:

    I resonate so strongly with this it almost scares me… except that it’s encouraging to know this is not a unique path and that others have walked it before me. I’ve even walked it before myself and yet here I find myself walking it AGAIN. I have already done the crying out to God thing… and seen progress in our family… yet tonight I found myself stringing together all the excuses under the sun for my husband’s and my own bad behaviour. I need to stop doing it. It’s a downward spiral into hopelessness.

  11. Luisa says:

    I needed to read this today. I am feeling tempted today to stir up a pot of tantrum soup. I am on shaky ground, and I need to turn to God in this! Thank you for sharing your story, Marilyn.

  12. Phyllis says:

    Thank you for this! Where is the next post? 🙂

  13. Laurel says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Marilyn. I feel I can relate to your story, in different ways, when it comes to being upset with the circumstances with our spouse.
    I found myself not being able to rely on my husband on many things and I can’t change him but one day, i felt God remind me that He was my ultimate husband and to take my cries to Him. So, I did. Did things change? Yes, I do feel God helped answer specific prayers, that I had been praying about. Since then, whenever I find myself being upset with my husband again, I hear God say it again to me. When my friends are going through a divorce, upset with their spouse or a single mom, and relay their frustrations to me, I remind them of Him being their ultimate husband and He is there to meet their needs.

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