The Apology Letter: The Day I Learned to Stop Being Dr. Phil

There it was. The screaming. The wailing. The crying. Audible proof that my two girls had engaged in another battle of wills as they cleaned their room. I braced myself for the onslaught of “she said”s and “It’s all her faults”s as I climbed the stairs to their room. Sure enough, one was accused of pushing her work off on the other. The pushee called the pusher a creep. The pusher called the pushee a jerk…you get the idea. cranky 2

As I listened to their wails of injustice, I groaned in spirit. I know I’m not alone. Moms all over the world groaned with me. Thankfully, I’ve reached the point in my journey through motherhood where I no longer get sucked into their spiral. I stay calm, listen, am patient with them but still, the fighting wears me out. I get tired of trying to play mediator. Tired of trying the same old tactics. And since they both refused to budge their stubborn little hearts, I knew I would have to intervene. What would it be this time? Making them compliment each other? Time-outs? Handcuffing them together until they learned to get along?

tired mom

I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “I want you both to sit down, open your Bibles and write out the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 while I go figure out what to do. No talking, no fighting, just write.” (You know 1 Corinthians 13, right? It’s the whole “Love is patient, love is kind, is not easily angered…” Yeah, that one.) I then walked downstairs, searched for chocolate and tried to come up with a suitable solution. Honestly, my Mommy reserves were tapped dry.

After fifteen minutes of chocolate-filled quiet, I trudged my way back upstairs, determined to lay down the law. After all, they had to learn how to get along. What would happen to them after their Dad and I died? Would they spend the rest of their lives embroiled in legal battles simply because I failed? This was it. I would make them understand. I would make them love each other…whether they liked it or not.

As I approached the top of the stairs, I heard soft giggles. Entering the room, I saw my oldest daughter slide a note to her sister. They weren’t supposed to be passing notes! Didn’t they realize this was serious, soul-searching discipline time?

Snatching the note away, I read the scrawled writing…and then smiled.

The note read: “Sorry…I was kinda acting like a jerk. Please forgive me. Love u…”. I turned the note over to see her sister’s response. “Sorry that I said you were a lyieir (liar) and a jerk. P.S. Can you forgive me?”

beth's apology letter

I glanced down to see both of them smiling at me, their Bibles open to Corinthians. “I don’t understand. I thought I was going to have to come up here and knock your heads together.”

Bethany giggled. “Nah, God did that for you. Hey, Callie, you wanna play with me?” And just like that, all was forgiven.

How often do we think we have to fix things for others? Sometimes I think we give ourselves too much credit for being the answer to the world’s problems. We don’t have to drop that perfect pearl of wisdom to help a heartbroken friend. We just need to love them.

It’s not up to us to be everyone’s go-to guru for advice. That’s God’s job and I certainly don’t want to play god with anyone’s life. The responsibility is far too great for my feeble shoulders.

It’s certainly not up to us to convict others when they stray. Only God can do that. Just like the situation with my kids, I could beg, plead, threaten and coerce all day, but all the jewels in my Mommy-wisdom box were no match for the simple, convicting power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.

Perhaps instead of thinking we should be the Christian world’s Dr. Phil, we should just be loving folks to the feet of Jesus. Encourage, lead, but let God do the convicting. He does a much better job of fixing things than we ever could anyways.

Have you ever struggled with trying to fix everyone’s problems? What was the outcome? Tell me…I would love to hear about it! What do you do when the Mommy-well is tapped dry?

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5 thoughts on “The Apology Letter: The Day I Learned to Stop Being Dr. Phil

  1. Thank you Tara for this message. As moms, it is hard to refrain from being problem fixer guru even when our children are grown. It pains our heart to see our kids going through painful things, so we just remind ourselves that God has this for us.🙏

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  2. Tara, this was so great. Kids do usually work it out without our help but I do agree the convicting power of God is all any of us really need if we will just yield ourselves to His infinite wisdom. He can settle all feuds by His Word or His grace. We just need to listen. I’m enjoying your writings very much.

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  3. Great post! I have ministered to many women and one thing I learned very quickly was-I can’t fix this. Only God has the power to do that. So I seek God, point those I minister to seek God & let Him do the work!

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