Anger and Potty Training

Prov. 12:18 “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Prov. 14:29 “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”

Prov. 14:30 “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.”

You get so tired sometimes that you do what comes naturally. When someone offends you, you are hurt, so the automatic reaction is to become angry. We are commanded to do the opposite of what comes naturally. This is impossible aside from the Spirit, and it will take a miracle. The transforming power of God in our lives, called sanctification, is always a miracle. If it is not a shock to us that the impossible is happening, then we are attempting to change ourselves in our own strength. If we employ techniques like counting to ten, we are not dealing with our hearts at all. We are concealing what is in our hearts, but it still lurks there, and it will come out, especially when you are tired. If you are ruled by anger, it will continually come out, injuring everyone “like the thrusts of a sword.”

My own personal journey toward overcoming anger is humiliating, but God wants me to write it. I am upset that God is commanding me to humiliate myself. I can clearly see that pride is standing in the way as I write this. Now I have two ugly sins staring me in the face.

Of all things, potty training brought out the anger in me more than any other situation. I don't understand why; I have been through much worse circumstances. So the fact that I raged at God over potty training seems ludicrous. My four-year-old boy kept pooping in his underwear every day, and I knew that he knew how to poop in the toilet. I was pregnant at the time, and the disgusting aroma of poo made me want to vomit as I scrubbed it out at the sink. My hands were touching poo. I felt like my son was punishing me, and I was sick of it.

Every time I felt furious, I would get on my knees and beg God to take away my anger. I continued praying until the anger went away. Then I went back to my son. I asked God to help me recognize if he was doing it on purpose. Only God would know this. God showed me he wasn't doing it on purpose. He was trying not to poop. He never wanted to poop. He would scream and try to keep his poop in, and he would hide when he did this.

I had never heard of this before. Nobody talks about it. After talking with many mothers with large families, most of them had at least one boy who had this problem. I was surprised by how common the problem was.

The rage at God came only once (well, twice – I guess I will have to tell you about the second time, too.) I was alone in my room, upset at God that He didn't take away my anger once and for all. I knew that He was in control of every atom in the universe, and that only He could help my son to have control over pooping. If it was God's will, He could do it. But He was purposely not doing it. That made me mad. I yelled, “You have never potty trained anyone in Your life! You have no idea how hard it is! Do something!” I knew His answer was no, and I was angry that God was so stubborn to not do things my way. I screamed with rage at God.

Then I realized what I was doing. I apologized to God. I didn't know that I was angry at God until that moment, and I was horrified at my own sin.

I was silent before God. I had accused Him of not understanding me, of dragging out this trial for years just to put me through agony for no reason.

He answered me. He showed me that Jesus was tempted to have now what He was going to have later. Impatience to get what you want – the Bible says that Jesus was tempted by this. All three wilderness temptations included this. He would eat bread after His dedicated time to God was over. He would be worshiped later. People would know that He was Messiah later. Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8), and so must I. Suffering is actually a gift through which we can gain character, which is imperishable.

I felt foolish. The anger was gone after my talk with God. I was able to endure the potty training after that.

Now you are probably asking me, “When was the second time you raged at God over potty training? You forgot to tell us about that.”

What are the odds that one family would be “blessed” with two children with the same pooping problem? I made sure my children turned three before I started potty training, because anything before this age had been a complete waste of time. Before potty training another child, I asked God to make it easy for me to potty train that kid. I heard a clear “no.”

This is when I raged at God a second time. I was mad that He was putting me through a trial that He had already put me through. This was the last straw. It was like I had a scab that was ripped off, and I had to continue being poked on that one sore spot over and over and over. Death by a thousand pin pricks.

“God, change me.” That's all I could say.

Miraculously, He did. For the next couple of years, I joyfully scrubbed the poo. This is impossible. I'm not lying. I said I had joy. Look at my story. That's why God gets all the glory, because there is no way I could go from rage to joy in my own strength. This is a living example of sanctification. I felt peaceful every day as I cleaned poo for years. God used this situation to show me He could change me. It was a gift, not the curse I thought it was.