Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Pitchin’ a Fit, Day 2

Leslie Basham: When Israel Wayne was thirteen years old, he was home with his five younger sisters when his stepfather came to the door in a rage.

Israel Wayne: I was sitting in the living room with a loaded twelve-gauge shotgun, that happened to be his, and I remember thinking, If that door latch breaks, I’ll shoot him, because I knew that it was going to be either him or us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We’re continuing our conversation today with Brook and Israel Wayne. This family has become sweet friends of mine over the last several years. They live not too far from our ministry headquarters. We attend the same church.

The Lord has been sweet to let us just enjoy some mutual encouragement. We’re all involved in speaking and writing and have public lives and ministries, but it’s a sweet thing to have friends behind the scenes who are iron sharpening iron.

I’ve watched you parenting. I’ve watched you in your processing of family challenges, and we’ve shared some of those together over the last several years. Just as we’re learning and growing, it’s a sweet thing to have this relationship with you behind the scenes.

So thank you now for coming into the studio and sharing with our Revive Our Hearts audience on a subject that I know is of huge interest to a lot of our listeners. Welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Israel: Oh, thank you. We’re very grateful for you and your ministry and just your example of godliness that we enjoy watching.

Nancy: Thank you for that. And thank you for writing this book, Pitchin’ a Fit! When you hear that title, and you relate it to parenting, you might think it’s about children pitching a fit—which children can do.

Israel: They do.

Nancy: But it’s actually not about children pitching fits.

Israel: It’s more about us, actually.

Nancy: As parents.

Israel: Yes. Several people have asked me if this is my autobiography. Yes, it kind of is.

Nancy: Because the subtitle is, “Overcoming angry and stressed-out parenting.” There’s probably a lot more of this that goes on behind the scenes of homes than what we’d ever know when we come to church on Sunday. Everybody’s dressed up and on their best behavior.

Brook Wayne: Right.

Nancy: Do you think there’s a lot of angry and stressed-out parenting going on?

Israel: There’s a lot of it on the way to church on Sunday.

Nancy: No kidding—and on the way home probably, too.

Israel: Yes. If there’s ever a time when you don’t feel saved, it’s when you walk in the door on Sunday morning. You’re just like, “You know what? I have a whole bunch of stuff to repent of right now before I sing any of these songs.”

Nancy: But then, magically, these little halos appear over all our heads.

Israel: That’s right.

Nancy: And, “How are you doing?” And we’re all, “Just fine.” Well, ten minutes ago, we weren’t.

Israel: That’s right.

Nancy: Thank you for bringing to the surface and talking about in a really open way what all of us experience in different ways. I think people express anger and respond to stress in different ways. Israel, I saw you posted on Facebook not too long ago about a call you picked up that somebody didn’t intend for you to hear.

Israel: Yes. Somebody had pocket-dialed me, and I didn’t know what the call was about, but it sounded like a distressed situation, so I stayed on the phone.

As it turned out, this couple, who was a married, Christian couple that I know, was in the middle of a rip-roaring fight. It was nasty. It was profane, and it was angry. There was just a side of this couple, that was very respected in the church and in their community, that I had never seen before, that I would have had no access to in any other way. I don’t know that they knew the situation ever happened.

But it sort of brought to my mind, “Wow. What would happen if we had microphones or video cameras in our home playing out to Facebook or live streaming on the Internet what we’re doing all day, every day?”

Of course, that then leads to the thought that, number one: Our children see what happens in our home every day, which is of vital importance. But also, the Lord sees, and He knows. Our goal is that, not that none of us will ever have days where we act out in sinful ways, but: What do we do in those moments? What do we do in those moments where we realize, “I’ve just crossed the line of acceptability here. I have acted in a way that is not Christ-like.”

How we respond to those moments really, I think, determines the outcome of our relationships and to a great extent, the future of our marriage and our future relationships with our children.

Nancy: And these things really do impact our children in significant ways.

Brook, you shared yesterday, and if you didn’t catch the last program, I’d encourage you to go listen to that or read the transcript at www.ReviveOurHearts.com because there was some really practical wisdom there. But you told about coming into marriage and not thinking of yourself as an angry person, and then you had children.

Brook: And then children came along, and I had those times when I was pushed. I was stressed. I felt cornered. I felt out of time. I felt out of sleep. I was hungry. Because I was taking care of other people first.

And those moments really made me examine myself and see the selfishness I had bound up in my heart that I didn’t even realize, because when you’re single, or when you’re not in a stressful situation, you’re not having the weight of that responsibility. You maybe don’t realize how much you still have of yourself in there that you need to get rid of and let God take that place.

Nancy: And then those circumstances become tests that show what really is inside, which is a horrible thing, but it’s a good thing.

Brook: It is. That dying to self is a painful process, and sometimes it’s slow. And sometimes we feel, Okay, we’ve conquered. We’re putting a flag here. And yet we find out tomorrow we’re met with more kinds of trials.

And yet, it’s a good thing, because in ourselves, we don’t have life. It’s only in God we have life and we have joy.

Nancy: I think a lot of parents enter into parenting thinking that the children will bring them joy, which they do.

Brook: Yes.

Nancy: But they also bring testing and challenge. It looks like as soon as you get the first two figured out, then there’s one child for whom no textbook was ever written. Right?

Israel: We have one child. Yes.

Nancy: In fact, you talked about your first child should be a lawyer.

Brook: Yes.

Nancy: And you knew this from early on.

Brook: Age two, he was bringing out all of his court reasons why he should have his own way, and I was like, “Oh, boy.” I was a bit of a pushover at that time, and so I had to kind of go, “No, I’m the mom. You need to follow Mama.”

Nancy: So each of these children really is a gift from the Lord to expose things—pride, anger, self—in the heart that needs to go to the cross.

Brook: It is. It is. It has shown me in so many ways . . . Sometimes, with particularly difficult children, it’s easy to see how each day they make things difficult, how they don’t respond well. We have one of those, and yet, that child has just made me realize all the more how much I’ve needed him to help God do a work in me.

Nancy: So this was no accident.

Brook: No. It’s not an accident. I’m making it sound like a difficult thing, a painful thing. There are moments like that, for sure, but there is so much joy. There’s so much joy being an agent of God’s grace in our children’s lives and being able to point them, in those moments that they need corrected, back to the cross, back to knowing Christ.

Nancy: Now, you came out of a background where you had a lot of Christian nurture and knew a lot about the ways of the Lord. I think that’s true of a lot of our listeners. And God uses children to expose the Pharisee or the pride in the heart that they didn’t know was there.

On the other hand, I know we have a lot of listeners who have come out of really uber-dysfunctional, angry backgrounds. They almost feel like there’s no way they can parent differently because that’s all they’ve ever known. I think they feel handicapped. There’s a lot, now, of multiple divorce and abuse.

Israel, when I first met you, I thought of you just as a pretty calm, kind of laid back, “This guy’s got it all together.” But as I got to know more about your story, I realized that the Lord has done some major changing in you, to redeem things in your past that could have been obstacles and barriers, but instead, God is using today.

Israel: Yes.

Nancy: Tell us a little bit about your background, because I think a lot of our listeners will relate to that as well.

Israel: When we sat down with our publisher to discuss with them the possibility of writing this book, one of the questions that they raised, because I’ve done several book projects with the same publisher, and they know me fairly well, is, they said, “What could you possibly know on the topic of anger? You’ve never had an angry day in your life, have you?”

Nancy: Or so they thought.

Israel: I thought, What a blessing, in a way, that that would be how someone would think of me, that someone would identify me as someone who is not defined by anger because my childhood was very difficult.

My parents divorced when I was six years old, and my mother remarried a man who was very violently, physically abusive, and, of course, verbally and psychologically abusive as well. We lived with him from the age of six to fifteen, in my life.

And you think about how defining those years are in a young man’s life—six–fifteen. It sets the tone for everything that you are, everything that you become. Your view of your own identity, your view of manhood, your view of family, of parenting, of marriage—all of that—gets shaped during that time.

And I was living in a situation where, literally, my life was threatened on a regular basis. My stepfather attempted to kill me on several occasions. So I grew up not with a low-grade irritation or frustration, but with rage and explosive wrath and anger.

Nancy: In your heart toward him?

Israel: Well, that was how I was treated.

There’s a Proverb that says, “To note an angry person and stay away from them, lest you learn their ways and become like them” (see Prov. 22:24–25).

Nancy: Did you see that process happen in your own heart?

Israel: I did. And there’s a couple of things about this . . . You have a wonderful book that you’ve written on forgiveness that I would encourage every listener to get if they’re dealing with this. One of the dynamics I’ve learned is that if you cannot forgive someone who has hurt you, that it’s very easy for you to become the person that you hate.

Nancy: Yes.

Israel: We think that’s counter-intuitive. We think, Well, I recognize the wrong that has been done to me, so I will never repeat that. I will never do that. But unfortunately, if you are consumed with hate toward this person, you become that. It eats you up from the inside.

God, thankfully, let us out of that situation. He left when I was fifteen, and we were able to start rebuilding our life. But I found I was that person. I was angry. I was full of explosive temper.

Nancy: You actually had a moment when you expressed that toward him in a pretty significant way.

Israel: I did. I was twelve years old, and he was facing prison time for having tried to kill me. He was looking at a five-year sentence at that point, and I remember he said to me, “If I go to prison, five years may seem like a long time to you, but it doesn’t see like that long to me. When I get out, I will track you down. I will find you, and I will kill you.” And then he looked in my eyes, and he said, “I hate you.”

And I remember I looked him right back in the eyes, at the age of twelve, and I said, “I hate you, too.” And I literally meant it. I never hated anybody in my life, but I did. My heart became so cold and so hard and so calloused, as a self-protective measure. I never cried. I was a hand grenade about to go off.

Nancy: He actually did try and fulfill that promise when he got out of prison—what, a year later?

Israel: He actually ended up not serving time. They let him out on a year probation. So he didn’t actually serve the time. The legal status was that if he didn’t violate his probation, it would be struck from his record.

Nancy: Wow.

Israel: After a year, he actually came back. It turned out my mother was gone one day, and I was with my little sisters—I have five sisters. We were at home. I was thirteen years old. He came to the house. My mother had said, “If he comes back, don’t open the door because you know what will happen,” which I did.

I remember being in the living room of that house and him attempting to break down the front door. I was sitting in the living room with a loaded twelve-gauge shotgun, that happened to be his, which he had threatened me with on multiple occasions. And I remember thinking, If that door latch breaks, I’ll shoot him. And I would have because I knew that it was going to be either him or us.

I think about how differently life could have been if that stupid little door latch hadn’t held. Looking back on it now, I think there were angels on the other side of the door holding it closed because he was a big man.

I think about how God has enabled me now to have a ministry to families. The irony of that, coming out of the kind of dysfunctional situation that I did, is just a testimony to the grace of God.

Nancy: There was a point that you skipped over pretty quickly from there till now, but there was a point when you were in your mid-teens where the Lord met you in a transformational way.

Israel: Yes. I remember when I was fifteen years old thinking to myself, I don’t ever want to do to somebody else what has been done to me. When I was fifteen years old, I remember sitting in a church service, and I was wrestling with God. I was struggling with this issue of: Does God really love me?

I believed all the doctrines of the Christian faith. I believed that the Bible is true, that God created everything, that Jesus is who He said He was. I didn’t doubt the omnipotence of God. I didn’t doubt the omniscience of God. What I was struggling with was the love of God.

Nancy: Because of what you’d experienced with the step-dad.

Israel: Yes. If God knew about that, and if He had the ability to stop it, why didn’t He? I struggled with that. I was just having this conversation alone with God in the middle of the church service, and just saying, “Why do You not care about me? Why do You not care about what’s happened?”

I remember God speaking to my heart—not audibly—just speaking to my heart and just being overcome with the love of God. God just spoke to me in my heart and said, “I do love you. I care about you. And this is not for nothing. I care deeply about this, and it means everything to Me.”

And knowing that God loved me, changed me.

Nancy: Knowing and . . .

Israel: . . . feeling it!

Nancy: And believing it.

Israel: Feeling it! I knew it intellectually, but I didn’t feel it.

Our faith is not an experiential faith. We believe in an objective truth. But there are moments when God chooses to touch us in some subjective, personal way that just lets us know He’s there, and He loves us, and He cares about us. And that happened to me.

I remember crying out to God and saying, “God, I’m incapable of changing myself. I don’t like who I’ve become. I don’t think I have the capacity to change myself. And if at some point in the future I would ever get married and have a family, I don’t want to ever do to somebody else what’s been done to me, but I’m afraid that I will.”

I knew all the statistics that said I would just repeat the process. I said, “You’ve got to change me.” I just felt so washed, so bathed in the love of God, and healed in a way that I was able to release that hurt, release that bitterness. I was able to allow God to be the Judge. He was the one who is able to bring sentence. And God says that, “'Vengeance is mine,' says the Lord. 'I will repay'” (see Rom. 12:19).

It wasn’t my place to make sure all the wrongs were made right. It was my place to trust that there is a God, and I’m not Him. He loves me, and I need to walk in that. I need to live in that. I need to live. I need to get beyond this and have life and have a future and hope.

And God gave that to me. And He taught me the principles from Scripture about how to walk out a new life and how to overcome that anger addiction.

Nancy: I remember, as we sat in your living room a number of years ago, when you first shared this story with me. I was thinking, This guy could be a statistic. And your children could be statistics of hatred and anger just being perpetuated, a cycle of violence and anger.

But I look at you now, loving your children—not perfectly—but beautifully, and it was amazing to me to hear you tell about how, at the age of fifteen, you cried out to the Lord, how God supernaturally took away the anger out of your heart.

Israel: He just met me. And He does. I love your workbook that you’ve done, Seeking Him. Again, that process of crying out to God and seeking Him is so powerful. In Jeremiah 29, that passage where God says, “You will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (see v. 13). He will be found. He’s not hiding. He’s not trying to be elusive. He’s there. He’s here.

Nancy: And He does love. And He does care.

Israel: Yes.

Nancy: There’s a sentence here I’m looking at in this book on angry parenting that I think is a powerful principle here for maybe a lot of listeners who are relating to the background that you just talked about, and still feel this welling up of powerful addiction to anger. You say, “I had to be willing to exchange my right to be bitter and angry in exchange for God’s love and mercy.”

Israel: Yes

Nancy: So God reached out to you and expressed His love to you, but you had to be willing to hand over the bitterness, the anger.

Israel: Yes. And what a glorious exchange.

If you’re holding in your hand bitterness and anger and resentment and unforgiveness, and you’re clutching it with all your might because it’s yours—it belongs to you, and you feel you have a right to keep it. God is saying, “Open your hand. Let Me take that. It’s not good for you. It’s toxic. It’s going to kill you. Let Me take that. And let Me replace it with life.”

Why wouldn’t we make that exchange? It’s just that those things are familiar to us. It’s what we’ve known. It’s our default. And we’re scared of what’s on the other side. We don’t know what it’s like to be other than we are. And we’ve been taught, in some cases, by our culture and by humanism and all that, that we’re stuck. We have to be the way we are.

We just don’t believe that God is capable of doing anything greater or beyond what we ourselves are capable of doing.

Nancy: Yes.

Israel: If we can’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and fix this, it can’t be fixed. It’s not true. That’s not the gospel.

That’s why the message of the cross is so liberating. It’s so powerful because there is no sin, there’s no addiction, there’s no habit, there is no past that is too great that God cannot redeem that for His glory, for our ultimate good, and the good of others.

There is no sin, addiction, habit, or past that is too great that God cannot redeem.

Nancy: Wow! And I’m just thinking how many life stories and situations this applies to. This is the gospel.

Israel: Amen.

Nancy: This is the gospel in both of you and myself as well. And we’ve, again, sat and shared with each other some of these stories from our own past, and some of this you think, Who could have scripted this background?

All of us have experienced in different ways from past generations things that we don’t want to pass on to the next generation. But the power and the gift of forgiveness . . . Look, you have experienced some of that power in your own journey. The gift of saying, “I release my past—people who have influenced my life, family members—not to hang on to those things, but to release them.”

Brook: Yes.

Nancy: I know you found a lot of freedom through doing that.

Brook: I have. It’s been a journey. Everybody has people that rub them the wrong way and have done wrong to them. It’s just part of being on this earth with the human, fallen nature each one has.

I’ve had times in my life where I’ve had to just let go of those issues and forgive people that have hurt me and move on. And when I do, I find I have more energy, I have more joy to give to other people. It’s almost like God’s refreshed me, and now I can have something to refresh other people with.

Nancy: And when we don’t, what does that look like?

Brook: Oh, the bitterness and the hatefulness. One of my favorite stories is Treasures in the Snow written by Patricia St. John. I read that to my children every year.

The grandmother in the story talks to the little girl named Annette, who’s dealing with this hatefulness and this bitterness towards a little boy in the same village who hurt her brother.

And the grandmother wisely says, “You’re not going to be able to get rid of this hate on your own. This is like darkness, and if you want to get rid of the darkness, you can’t just try to work and work and work to try to get rid of that darkness. You have to just let the light in.”

And she says to Annette, “What happens when you open the shutters in the morning? Does the room stay dark?”

And, of course, the little girl says, “No. The darkness disappears. It’s light with all the sun.”

I think that’s true with us in relationship to God. We can work hard to overcome our anger or bitterness or the things that we harbor in our hearts against others, but it’s really when we allow the light of Jesus to come into us that that darkness is dispelled.

Nancy: As I’m listening to you share that, Brook, and Israel, listening to your story, I’m thinking about my own journey. I know we have listeners right now who are living in a very dark room, and there’s a heart filled with anger, resentment, hatred, things that have been done to you over which you had no control.

Maybe you were that step-child who was being just totally mistreated, and now you find yourself continuing that cycle with your own children, provoking them to anger as you yourself were provoked to anger.

I just want to say, we want to say to you, “Open up the shutters, and let the light of the gospel, let the light of Christ, let the love of God, let His power, His Spirit, His life flood into your life and replace the darkness with light.”

It may be that you need, right now, to just say, “Lord, I’m going to do what Israel did. I’m going to yield up my right to be bitter and angry. I’m going to give it up to You. I’m going to let it go, and, in exchange, right now, I want to receive Your love and Your mercy, the light for the darkness, the grace for the law.”

That may be in your life something that happens quickly, as it did pretty much for you, Israel, sitting in that church service. It was a pretty dramatic transformation.

Israel: It was.

Nancy: And you continue to grow from that.

And for others, it may be a slower process, a slower healing. Both are miraculous, and both are possible.

I want to thank you both for writing this book on overcoming angry and stressed-put parenting, for sharing out of your own journey because all of us, whether parents or not, deal with how our past, our present circumstances create stress and then, sometimes, come out in anger, and how God really can set us free from that.

We’re going to continue this conversation on Revive Our Hearts the next time about how to replace the anger with the fruit of the Spirit, and how to live, not as angry parents, but as joyful, Spirit-controlled parents.

But I want to let you know that this book is available through Revive Our Hearts, and we’ll be glad to send it to you when you make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll be glad to send that to you.

Just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Let us know that you’d like to have a copy of Brook and Israel Wayne’s book on anger, angry parenting, Pitchin’ a Fit!, and we’ll send that to you. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you for helping us get this message into the hearts of women through this country and around the world.”

Be sure and join us the next time with Brook and Israel Wayne on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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