It’s a very popular scene…a ghastly figure slumbering along, eyes bloodshot, complexion pale and gaunt, jaw dropped open, creepy moaning noises. You’d think I was describing a scene from The Walking Dead…but to be honest I’m too squeamish to watch a single episode (just ask pastor Andrew about the time I tried). What I’m describing is the typical parent – especially the parent of young kids.
Sleep deprivation, hours of enduring long screaming and crying sessions, a thousand questions, and poop…lots of poop. All of that leads to what feels like a zombie-esque state of mind. I’m not sure what I expected but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this. Parenting comes with some harsh realities, which is why a recent article by Jonathan Parnell (a church planter in Minneapolis) was so refreshing to read. In the article he writes…
“The majority of society says that children exist to make us happy, to boost our egos, to procure pats on the back by the watching world. We have children because we think children will make our lives better.”
“But if we push our strollers with these ideals in tote, we’re not quite sure what to do when things go sideways — like when our kids pee on the floor while we’re grocery shopping, or refuse to stay in their beds at night, or spray air freshener in their eyes after they broke into the bathroom cabinet.”
Amen…I can relate to pee on the floor and bedtime refusals. He continues, “These things are hard — they make our heads ache, and our hearts. And so we get angry about the circumstances.”
More important than recognizing the difficult reality of childrearing is recognizing the underlying reasons why it might be so. Parnell continues, “If we understand that spiritual warfare is taking place, we may not run as quickly from [our children’s] rudeness, or at least not in the same way. Having expected it, we may enter into it with correction and kindness… The spiritual warfare at work in parenting means that this is complicated work — much more complicated than the blanket approach of so many parenting models.”
As a church, we recognize this supernatural component to parenting. Biblically it just makes sense. Parents are not simply up against the physical dimensions of sleeplessness and screaming. They are up against the spiritual dimensions of a real enemy who desires to do real harm to families. So what do we do? What’s the solution? Paul gives us an excellent game plan in Ephesians 6.
There he writes, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
The solution is to suit up…to arm ourselves. One of the ways we are arming parents is through our parent resource page. We have researched and found helpful children’s books, books for parents, and articles that draw out key biblical insights on parenting and help parents talk about the gospel in their home. We even develop a weekly community group guide for kids to go along with the guide that our groups our discussing during the week. Parenting certainly isn’t (and will never) be easy but it’s our prayer that parents would be able to as Paul says, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Click on the link here to access a variety of helpful parental resources for you and your family.
To access the full article by Jonathan Parnell you can click the link here.
– Jeremy Dager (Pastor of Age-based Ministries)