Taming the Inner Tantrum

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Psalm 130:3-4

The shrill scream echoed throughout the grocery store and bounced off everything from laundry detergent to ice cream. Several people stopped and looked around in wide-eyed wonder, but every mom in the vicinity knew exactly what it was—and they didn’t miss a beat.

An unhappy toddler was throwing a tantrum. Pitching a fit. Showing himself.

Holding his mommy hostage. (Well, you get the idea.)

And I must tell you—this little guy was good. His face was the color of a bad sunburn, his tiny lower lip stuck out far enough to trip over, and his fists were clenched and ready for battle.

I sneaked a glance at the mom to see how she was doing. Hands on hips, she was giving her little one the lookknock it off, buster.

But as “good” as his tantrum was—I’ve seen better. I mean, this kid was an amateur.


Have you ever seen a grown-up pitch one?

I’ve witnessed men and women stomp their feet, throw things, and scream unmentionables in a crowded room. I’ve seen an adult kick a box across a room and pound a desk in anger—all because their agenda was being thwarted.

Adults who act like toddlers look ridiculous and they wreak havoc in their spheres of influence. 

We can watch the evening news and see heartbreaking examples of the pain and destruction that results from people demanding their own way. Marriages and families break under the stress. Communities and countries suffer from the selfish demands of their leaders.

Recognizing this type of tantrum is easy—we can hear and see the effects. But there are thousands, no…tens of thousands of us walking around at any given time pitching an “invisible” fit to end all fits. We may look calm and serene on the outside—but inside? We’re a mess…

My life has not turned out the way I planned. Everything is hard and it’s just unfair.

Lord, You don’t know what she did/said to me. I will not show forgiveness to this person. I. Will. Not.

I hate this job/house/neighborhood/church/in-law/circumstance/person (pick one).

So, what’s the big deal? If we’re keeping our angst tucked inside, we’re not hurting anyone. Um, except ourselves—and every relationship the Lord has given us. In effect, we are holding growth and relationship hostage—and no one receives the pay-off (except Satan, the father of lies).

Our internal tantrums take on lives of their own. They become so deeply embedded in our hearts and minds, it takes supernatural power to dig them out. And not only do we miss genuine connection and interaction with others, but our first love suffers—our precious walk with Christ.

God’s Word offers a simple, yet powerful formula in our battle to tame the inner tantrum:

Forgive. Be content. Love.

Forgive:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).

Be content:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

Love:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).


Superhuman effort is required in the battle of dying to self. We simply cannot defeat our inner selfishness alone. Thankfully, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who moves in us to act according to His will (Philippians 2:13).

I must confess. Over the years, I have thrown my share of tantrums. Childishness and immaturity have pushed their way to the forefront of my life. There may have been no visible signs, but it was there—wreaking havoc and stunting growth in my heart and thought-life.

Praise God, He offers forgiveness and restoration. Oh, the joy! 

He pulls me close, smooths my red, tear-stained face and gently unclenches my fists.

Give it to Me, child…

Yes, Lord. Yes.


God’s Word offers a simple, yet powerful formula in our battle against the inner tantrum: Forgive. Be content. Love. #forgiveness #parenthood @lthomaswrites


(Cover photo courtesy of Ryan Franco on Unsplash)

14 thoughts on “Taming the Inner Tantrum

  1. Have learned that all our tantrums do is slow-down the eventual progress we know we have to make. Been there many times myself my friend; and sadly, go there every now and again still! Thank you for your gentle reminder that surrender saves a lot of pain and anguish. God’s blessings ma’am.

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  2. Leigh Ann, I’ve had those mental temper tantrums, too. Thank you for leading us to the Word for instructions in righteous living that make a difference in our hearts and the lives of those around us. We’ve all heard those shrill tantrum screams in stores. Your post makes us more aware of the fits we throw in our hearts. Thank you. What a powerful reminder: We simply cannot defeat our inner selfishness alone.” God is our helper in this.

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  3. If we’re honest I expect we’ve all had both kinds of tantrums (the physical display) and the mental (where we have an internal battle that creates huge stress). You are right that is is extremely disturbing to see an adult throw a tantrum. But, our interior ones can also cause great harm, both to our physical health and the grudges we may tend to hold against people even as we resist a public display or verbal altercation. You’ve reminded us (gently as J.D. would say) to gather wisdom and encouragement from scripture and prayer so we can cope with disappointments in a mature and loving manner. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Katherine. You are so right about our internal battles creating stress. And I’m left wondering why I didn’t surrender to the Lord sooner! Thanks for reading and for your insightful comments. Blessings!

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  4. Thank you, Leigh Ann, for the wonderful thoughts on taming tandoms! I always enjoy your writings and this one is certainly a keeper! In fact, I am keeping it on my phone for reference. It is so easy to escalate to the tantrum level, especially internal ones.

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  5. Mmm hmm. Truth upon truth, and hope that prevails…if we surrender to His will. Girl, you nailed the little kid who stomps her feet within my spirit. Thank you for the visual of our loving Father who loves and restores.

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