By Kami Zumwalt
Starch. Clean sheets. Kids learning French in ballet class. Don't we love those heavenly moments where life runs like a smooth machine? (Before the diaper blowout and temper tantrum that is!) Staying the “chill mom” on the smooth days is easy enough, but am I easy to please when the day goes off the tracks??
When my plans go down the drain, my kids are looking to see how hard I am to please. Will I lose my joy over a clogged sink, smashed sweet potato on my shoe, or green slime in someone's hair? (True story) Is my joy tied to my excellence and expectations of perfection? To take myself much less seriously, I love to think of the extreme, hard case, shocking example of an impossible to please mom in the Bible.
Oh yes. She had a lot of prestige and smooth running plans on the outside. She had the title, “Sidonian Princess. The daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Phoenician city-state of Tyre, and Queen of Israel.” She had power. Influence. An impossible to please persona.
And she had a daughter.
Talk about a mother you could never please!
Growing up with the most influential, feared, and demanding women in the nation, I imagine Athalia felt she lived in a glass castle.
Queen Jezebel had a reputation of getting what she wanted at all costs. Want a garden? No problem. Naboth is killed. King Ahab inherits his property. And she's so consumed with killing the prophets of God, Athalia must have heard daily about her mother's obsession with power and position.
GLASS CASTLES PRODUCE PERFORMERS
“Will I ever be able to please my mother?”
Kids with impossible to please parents often have two choices. Try harder. And take on a false sense of responsibility to make the big people happy, or give up and act out.
What did Athalia do?
Well, as I personally picture her enduring countless rampages and demands in the palace, we do know the sad story in second Kings (11:1) Once little Athalia was all grown up, she was so desperate for power and position, she had all the heirs killed who would try and keep her from her mother's throne!
And so, in light of one evil queen’s gross parenting mistakes, here are three ways I'm partnering with His grace to be easy to please.
1. PERFORMANCE SHOULD NEVER BE VALUED HIGHER THAN PRESENCE
With my children, I've stopped whatever, “lecture” I'm about to give, walked into my living room and got on my face. So often, my kids don't need to hear me tell them how they've failed to live up to some expectation I had (can we please learn to read without arguing over who got more blueberries?) And instead, watch me place value on His Presence when all of our performances are going down hill fast.
In Athalia's life, performance is likely the epitome of success. Was she overly drilled in her academic standards? I imagine her hair was, (which for some reason I picture as unruly red curls) never quite done up well enough. And can you imagine eating every day at Jezebel's table? It was a grand, evil event. “The four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18:19) often showed up. Don't dare drop a fork, or spill your milk! How you behave is a reflection on the queen. And she can not separate your weakness from her value.
This poisons relationships. Athalia was poisoned by her mother's selfish ambitions!
2. VALIDATE YOUR CHILD'S FEELINGS AND CHOICES
Athalia likely lived as profoundly controlled but never empowered. Weakness was frowned upon. A mom who is difficult to please, may downplay a child's emotions. They feel threatened by anger, or sadness. But an empowering mother gives kids the right to feel a spectrum of feelings without shaming them for showing weakness.
A simple smile and, “I can see that made you sad. That's tough. I might feel that way too if that happened to me. Do you need a hug?” Goes a long way in making our kids feel we are approachable and easy to please.
It is likely Jezebel controlled Athalia and most her decisions. How do kids feel empowered? Give them choices! Do you want milk or water? Do you want to read this book or a different book? Which shoes are you planning to wear? How are you going to fix that problem? Can I help? Kids feel empowered when given choices. It reinforces their unique sense of self, and reminds them though they are small, their choices and voices have big impact.
3. REMEMBER GOD IS EASY TO PLEASE
Our Father is easy to please.
It is nearly impossible to be happy apart from this truth. We can not be easy to please if we do not sense His pleasure over us, and have a healthy enjoyment of ourselves. How unhappy was Jezebel with herself? Who knows for sure. But a mom who is unhappy with herself, finds it rare anyone else could meet her expectations either.
Mama, God delights over who you are in Him. He applauds our progress, looks for us in every moment, reaches His hands into the very messes we are cleaning, and offers His grace for our lack of perfection. When I sit at His feet, and find out what He expects of me, my to do list seems rather silly. I've always put more on myself than He is expecting. When I remember how pleased God already is with me, I become the mom who is easy to please.
Romans 6:17 (TPT)
And God is pleased with you, for in the past you were servants of sin, but now your obedience is heart deep, and your life is being molded by truth through the teaching you are devoted to...
Kami is a forty-year-old pastor's wife, living in a farmhouse, raising two girls under six and an adorable six-month-old baby boy. She's a prophetess, women's pastor, prayer warrior, published freelance writer, and homeschool mom who loves antiques, tea cups, chocolate truffles and empowering women to live free and fulfilled in Christ. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.