My daughter stomps around the room and throws her sweater on the ground.
“You seem mad,” I say, trying to recall all those parenting books that teach you how to be a good mom. I have no idea what I’m doing.
“I am so mad,” she says.
My attempts to soothe her, distract her, punish her, or insist she display only positive emotions all fail.
So instead, I get out a pen and paper and cry out, with my finger in the air, “We are making a list! We are making a Mad List of all the horrible and terrible things!”
“Yes! Yes!” she smiles and curls up beside me as we sit on the bed with our notebook.
“Tell me all the Mad Things,” I calmly direct.
“OK,” she says, “But you are going to need more paper.” We start numbering, and soon we have 7 things she’s holding deep inside of her. Playground hurts from last year. A sister’s tease from last month. A disappointment. A fear. A lie someone told.
“Keep going,” she says when I stop to rest my hand.
Soon, we have a whole page full of Mad.
“Now what?” We stop and look at the list together. I search my mind, recalling every parenting tip, every seminar, and every wiser mother’s wisdom. Then I find the answer:
Jesus says not to let the sun go down on our anger. So I start wondering how in the world to get rid of all this Mad. We open the scriptures because we need to clean our heart. We find this in Colossians 3:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love. . . And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
“This is too hard for me,” she says.
“I know. It’s too hard for everyone. God has to do it in us because we can’t do it ourselves.”
Lord save us! We can’t let the Mad rule. We forgive. We seek to bless. We move down our list, and we ask God to help us forgive, to help us love. She starts to feel clean inside. She starts to let go of the Mad.
I retreat to my own heart and compile my Mad List. I start to forgive. I seek to bless. I want the Peace, not the Mad, to rule my heart.
Do you just need to make one big Mad List and get it all out?