A friend of mine asked me to write a blog post about parenting, because a friend of hers needed some help with one of her younger kids—I don’t have the specifics, but the possibilities are endless! Anyway, I’ve started this post a bazillion times and ended in disgust at myself each time. I sounded like a….what’s American for prat? I don’t know what to say to this nameless woman, because I don’t know her specifics. I do know that her kids are probably full of folly. One time I remember slipping out the side door at church for an ugly cry on the back staircase. “Their sin is relentless!” I wailed. (I got the feeling God could relate.) It’s gotten easier as we’ve moved from discipline to discipleship and I can see the Holy Spirit at work in them, but it’s still bewildering, this parenting gig.
Anyway, I don’t know if this woman’s kids are struggling with backtalk, lying, greed, sass, meanness, laziness, sloth, destruction, being The Kid Who Hits, stealing, or they’re just worn out. Sure, I’ve got tips and tricks for all these delightful growing points, but as I prayed, all I came up with was this:
Friend of a Friend, do not let yourself get numb. Stash a bible in the key rooms of your house—bathroom, laundry room, whatever—and snatch a few seconds of time with the Lord whenever you can, AT ALL COSTS. You may not get to sit down with a cup of tea and a pretty journal, that’s fine. In the thick of battle, all you might be able to do is quote a Scripture you’ve already memorized to yourself, all day, seeing how many times you can meditate on the verse. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1) The word for “help” in this verse is “ezer,” which gives the sense of God bailing Israel out in times of warfare. He’s the power, the warrior, the military might, the necessary ally, the one who swoops in and turns the tide. (Incidentally, this same word is used to describe YOU in Genesis 2:18. Ezer kenegdo, a help who is the perfect partner for him. Doesn’t sound so doormatty any more, does it?!)
I don’t know what’s wrong in your family, but I do know that you are not helpless, you are not hopeless, and you are certainly not without resources. If I were having coffee with you I could ask specific questions and give specific advice, but since I don’t have that privilege, all I can do is tell you to do what you already know: you fight best on your knees, in prayer. Don’t you dare think it won’t help. Don’t you dare think reading a tiny morsel of scripture is useless. You have been called by God to raise a bunch of kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—OF COURSE He’s going to help you do that! It was his idea. You are not alone.
Where do you even start praying? Well, your kids do not get a Jesusstorybookbible version of the Holy Spirit, they get the real deal. Is the third Person of the trinity dwelling in their hearts yet? If not, that’s where you start. Then, you phone a friend and tell them you’re falling apart and hopefully they will bring you a meal or take you out for hot chocolate. If they don’t, and you’re local, message me on Facebook and I’ll do it. No joke. We’re not out here flapping in the breeze, we’re the church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us.
Dear Lady with the Kids Who Annoy, I’m so sorry this blog post took a month to write and has exactly zero parenting tips and tells you things you already know. But you’re probably not doing those things, so, here is my Wiser Older Woman Advice: DO THE THINGS!!! (If you literally cannot, that is a red flag indicating that you might need professional assistance. Please pursue that!) I promise you, going to the fount of every blessing will garner Him the praise He is due and, since He’s so generous, give you all kinds of gifts, as well. The right gifts. The good ones. The really lavish ones. The right help at the right time for your soul. It’s going to be better than okay, it’s going to be glorious. I mean, not now—now is a trainwreck! But take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world.