One of life’s embarrassing characters is the screamer, and screamers show up in various settings.  Let’s say you are at an outdoor picnic and someone gets stung by a bee, and thus begins the screaming and flopping on the ground. No one really knows what to do even though everyone knows the unspoken cultural expectation to rally round and offer comfort and what not. But with the over-the-top screaming and shrieking, no one feels compelled to offer the comfort because what is actually needed is someone to tell the person to grow up and blow it out, it was only a bee sting after all.

On two-year-olds we all look at the parents and feel a mix of sympathy and criticism. No one likes to have their child flip out and melt down in public like that, so we feel sorry for the poor parents. At the same time, we wish the parents would step in and correct the child. It is not wrong to be hurt; but it is wrong to throw a complete fit about it. Learning good conduct, even in pain or fear, is a godly discipline.

When a teenage girl falls down and skins her knee in the volleyball game, we expect her to jump up and keep on playing. When she curls up in a ball and starts wailing, we feel ill at ease, wishing she would reel it in. Even if a bone is sticking out of her arm, there is a difference between legitimate cries of pain, and uncontrolled sobbing and yelling, cussing and kicking. You know what I mean. We delight to see courage and self-control because we admire it wherever we see it. But bad temper and cowardliness are always shameful,  no matter what the age of the screamer.

Even grown women can over-react when they are hurt, crying and yelling, swearing and complaining, whimpering and fussing when they should be showing courage and strength, faith and self-control. Screamers never inspire us; they make us feel embarrassed, like we are seeing something that should be off stage.

In pain and in fear, we should continue to consider our duties as Christian women. What is your duty when you undergo medical testing or when you slip on the ice? If you stub your toe or fall down the steps, do you shriek and panic or do you gracefully blow it out and control yourself? Though we might correct a two-year-old (or wish someone would), it is not exactly socially acceptable to tell a grown woman to quit acting like a baby. We would be accused on lacking sympathy and tact. But most people who are out of ear shot will certainly raise their eyebrows and express their disgust at such displays.

Christian women need to keep their duties of glorifying God in mind when they are in pain. We all understand our duties if our child is starting to run out into the street: immediate courage, strength and decisiveness. But we may forget our duty to conduct ourselves in a ladylike and God-fearing manner when we are the one who is afraid or hurting like the dickens. But those women who do handle themselves gracefully during such times always command our respect and gain our admiration.

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19 thoughts on “Screamers

  1. What a great post!
    I had a lovely and Godly midwife who described this kind of faithful courage as “the skill of under-reacting”.
    To be able to respond to overwhelming pain in a calm and controlled manner is really a grace from God, and something He builds in us when we pray for it with a right heart. I think it’s a type of wisdom in action, and you’re right that it brings delight to everyone who sees it.

  2. I just had a little chuckle over the title because we’ve dubbed our 18 mo. old baby girl as a ‘sceamer.’ (And yes, we’re working on it.) She lets out these ear-piercing shrieks whenever she gets something taken away — which is OFTEN with two older siblings. Thankfully she hasn’t taken to throwing herself on the floor, she’s pretty tough that way, she just bursts everybody’s ear drums.

    (Which makes me wonder, how would YOU deal with that in a baby?)

  3. I have a silent screamer. Ever since he was a toddler, Ethan, age four will silently put himself in a prostrate position on the floor and wait for someone to notice him. We rarely notice him, he then gets up and goes about his activity. But I think his silent screams are equally problematic…a grown man can not lie down on the floor when a business deal falls through.

    I think we can teach our children by the ways we react to our difficult times. I tell my sons that I am sorry when I react poorly, and point out how I *should* have handled the situation.

    Thank you for a thought provoking post!

  4. This is so true!
    When I see a women who pushes through difficulties with courage and self discipline I admire her. Whether it’s falling gracefully or wrestling through a real trial, it is very encouraging to watch a women behaving this way. It makes me want to be a braver women. To push through and even be one who can smiles or even laughs when I hit those bumps, whether at a slow pace or a full steam,(where the pain may very).
    This is an encouraging post, Thank you!

  5. Good reminder! Could you next address shriekers? That would be little girls who are otherwise quiet but when surprised suddenly belt out the highest note of an opera singer’s range. Although it only lasts for a second, my daughter never fails to startle me (and others) when she shrieks with delight (usually because Daddy is tickling her… in the restaurant!)

  6. “Christian women need to keep their duties of glorifying God in mind when they are in pain.”

    Thank you – I needed this! I’ve been surrounded by several people (of all ages) lately who whine and demand because they’ve stubbed a toe and feel it’s their right to now be high maintenance. This causes me ‘pain’ and I need to pull my ungodly responses under control and glorify God.

    Hmm . . . off to put this into practice.

  7. There’s such a difference between screaming and complaining, on the one hand, and taking some time out and having a good cry (in private). I think the latter is still better than the stiff upper lip approach, which can produce some seriously frightening women. I know one woman who only expressed derision, never sympathy, whenever weakness, need, or pain was evident in another person. Of course, she was just as hard on herself!

    I used to have a hard time with medical testing. I always had self-control, but in the past, it was all about will power and determination. I’ve learned that it should be more about faith and prayer (it’s normal to fear pain!), and that a calm, trusting, and friendly demeanor is more important than showing no signs of pain.

    I have to mention: some of the examples remind me of Mrs. Bennett and her nerves!

  8. It’s funny to read this post today because I broke my toe last weekend. What’s even funnier is that I did it while running to find my 2-year-old who was screaming.

    My husband can’t handle screaming as he is an ocean lifeguard in the summer. He is trained to hear screaming and automatically think: “Shark attack!” or “Drowning!” or “Missing child!”

    When the screaming turns out to be frivolous or a joke it’s like pulling the fire alarm just to see the fire truck. It drives him crazy. I think I learned that lesson last weekend. My 2-year-old recovered in 30 seconds. I have to wear a brace on my foot for 3 weeks.

  9. This reminds me of certain childhood lesson. After an exciting day at school–a fellow first grader had gotten paddled for a using bad words–I asked Mom when it was okay to use “bad words”.

    Mom asked what I thought. I considered the scenarios, and came up with what I thought to be the end all of childhood traumas, “When you fall down and break your arm.”

    Mom thought not, “If you came upon a girl who’d fallen and broken her arm, and she was yelling bad words–would you want to help her? Would you even want to go near her? What if instead she had tears in her eyes and asked for help nicely?”

    “Then I would take her to the hospital and sign her cast.”

    I won’t even mention the “Why do we have to wash hands” conversation, although not doing so after ( burying a cat my parents had no idea) and slamming my hand in the sliding glass door did lead to a fabulous “how I lost my fingernail to c-infection” story . . .

  10. After five sons we have gotten used to “boy” noises. Not that my boys don’t whine mind you, we frequently have to tell them to act like men, they just never scream. Now God has finally blessed us with a girl. We have dolled her up with pink and bows ( can’t wait till she’s big enough for a skirty) and enjoed every cute second of her girliness. But now that she’s 19 months old and full of opinions, BOY, CAN SHE SCREAM! Sometimes in delight, sometimes in disgust, always very loudly. My husband and sons look at her like an alien life form. This is a new and interesting battle in our home!

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  11. It seems like the Southern women I know tend to be more empathetic and dramatic and the Northern women more matter-of-fact about everything (sometimes to the point of showing no sympathy, as Sarah mentioned above). It’s difficult to find the right balance. Thank you for posting this, Mrs. Wilson.

  12. As a Yankee (MI) born gal turned Southerner (been a TN resident for a little over 14 happy years now) I can say that that might be the stereotype (and at times a well-deserved one) but I’ve certainly met my share of ladies who defy it. Seems to be a quietness of spirit issue.

    I really appreciate this post. It’s good to know that we should have a quiet spirit and what that looks like. It’s also really helpful to know what it *doesn’t* look like in various situations.

  13. I have a bigger problem with fussing at my house, although screaming certainly happens too(I have three girls! lol). It seems like the screaming(and the fussing!) we deal with is not so much brought on by physical pain as it is by emotional upset(the girls didn’t get their way, or someone took something from them, etc).

  14. Thanks! We have a screamer too, I especially like the comment above about, “what if you came across someone hurt, and they were saying bad words…” Great comments too! Best!

  15. I feel like deep in my head somewhere was this message, but I never really understood why. Your post pulled things together for me! I always wondered why people’s tantrums over the littelest things bothered me so much, but now I see that I recognized that you don’t have to freak out to make your self feel better, and I hoped that they could somehow understand that too. If you remain cool and collected, (as much as you physically can), you will probably feel better much sooner. Not to mention the people around you won’t have to endure your complaints.

    I have a friend who comes to me all the time with complaints about what is going on in her life. I care a lot for her, so I listen and try to give useful advice. But soon after I do, she is on the phone with other friends complaining all over again. As if, even with my wise advice putting things into perspective, the situation is STILL as terrible as it was. I don’t want to feel like that! Like, no matter how many people I talk to, the issue will never get better. I prefer to lift these problems to God even before I talk to a friend. That way, I am not burdening them and making them feel useless when I don’t feel better right after talking to them. God has blessed me in this way,because I don’t have many people to complain to, but I never seem to need them anymore.

    Thank your for your post!

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