Playing Offense

Few things drive me to my knees faster than parenting.  I think Satan likes to attack my parenting because it is where I feel most insecure.  I’m accustomed to tackling challenges with ease, but parenting leaves me baffled.  What works one day prompts disaster the next.  Throw a strong-willed child into the mix and boom!  Once again, I’m left in the wake picking up the shards of a broken morning.

Take this morning for instance.  My son, who was in a bad mood, refused to complete an assignment.  My daughter, who was quietly typing an essay, suddenly fell apart when I asked her to divide the mass on the page into separate paragraphs to make the essay more readable.  In fewer than sixty seconds, I had both children hurling insults and shouting at each other, and my own self-control was quickly waning.  I banished both children to their rooms and began to pray, yet again, for wisdom.  It seems no how many different ways I begin the day or prepare lessons or discipline we always end up here:  smoldering children and a mom desperately pleading for divine intervention.  Some days it is hard, so very hard.

Later, as I was mopping the kitchen, because oddly, mopping calms me, I was lamenting over how it feels like Satan hits my kids and me below the belt Every. Single. Day.  I watch other families where everything seems to flow so smoothly.  Their children bathe every day, they don’t throw monumental tantrums over paragraph division, they don’t throw pencils at their brothers and sisters, their mom doesn’t look frazzled beyond recognition.  Then as quickly as I turned my focus outward I redirected it inward.  Maybe it’s me; maybe I’m an utter failure as a mother.  If I just had done this differently or that differently then I could produce perfect children.  Fortunately, the Holy Spirit reminds me that it isn’t His voice condemning me; it is the voice of Satan whispering more lies, turning my attention away from Jesus, encouraging me to parent in my own strength.

So many times, I hear that voice, the one that paralyzes my effectiveness that leaves my stomach tied in knots of turmoil.  But, what if those of us entrusted with challenging kids are rearing children who are destined to do big things for the kingdom?  Maybe that’s why the devil hits us so hard.  Maybe, just maybe, the sweet darlings who test my every limit and debate my every rule are being prepared to defend the gospel and drive the devil to his knees.  Satan hates families who desperately cling to Jesus in their parenting.  He hates that we pray over and with our kids.  He despises the hours of devotions, the commitment to church and service.  He’ll do anything he can to rip apart spouses who are bound and determined to stay on the same page in their parenting book.  I found it oddly encouraging to know that maybe God is preparing us for kingdom work, and these parenting storms are merely strengthening us for what lies ahead.

The other gift parenting difficulties gives me is a total dependence on God.  I’m driven to the one who is made perfect in my weakness each time my children leave me bewildered. Every time I hear the whisper of “You’re not enough” or “This one is hopeless; you should give up,” I find my resolve.

Ephesians 6 reminds us that “[our] strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within [us]. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that [we] will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.13 So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, [we] will still be standing up. 14 But to do this, [we] will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval. 15 Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. 16 In every battle [we] will need faith as [our] shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17 And [we] will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.18 Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of [our] needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.

The battle is daily, and it is real:  this battle for our souls, for our children’s souls, for our family.  Satan is fighting a war he’s already lost, but he is not going out without a knock-down drag out, and he will use everything in his power to destroy our will, resolve, and unity, especially when he sees us as a real threat.  Recognizing that the hard battles I fight in parenting are not fought alone helps me get up and fight for my family another day.  God knew it wouldn’t be easy, but He graciously gives us the gift of His word and prayer.  We have been giving the privilege of fighting alongside our Savior for our children and knowing this is bigger than taming eye-rolling, lack of self-control, and sassiness encourages me on those hard days. So to all those moms who are struggling with parenting on more days than not, take heart.  God has equipped us for exactly the children with which He’s entrusted us, and He’s given us all the tools we need for our families to stand victorious.

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