I had an epiphany the other day. As I sighed wearily following what felt like an epic battle with my son, I realized: Parenting is war. Exhausting, heart-rending, painful, epic war.
The battle lines are clearly drawn and the opponents face off daily in a fight that seems to have no end. Each morning, we weary parents pick up our (figurative) swords and head off to war again, a war that doesn’t really end when Bedtime appears on the clock.
But the opponent is not what it seems at first glance. This is not a battle of Parent vs. Child. Oh, no, this battle is much bigger and bolder than that.
No, this is an epic age-old battle that has been waging since the beginning of time. This is a spiritual battle that’s fought in a physical world. And what are we fighting for?
Our child’s soul. That’s the battleground.
It’s not Me vs. The Child. It never was and it never will be. It’s the Forces of Evil fighting to gain ground in territory that belongs to God.
Identifying the Enemy
Unfortunately, too often we parent as if the battle is about us.
“You disobeyed ME.”
“You lied to ME.”
“You disrespected MY authority.”
“You went behind MY back.”
“You dishonored MY name.”
That’s what we say because that’s how we feel. We feel we are the victims of our child’s sinful nature. And that it’s up to us to change that sinful nature into something good and well-behaved.
But that’s not the reality of it at all. The reality is:
She disobeyed GOD.
He lied to GOD.
She disrespected GOD’s authority.
He tried to hide from GOD.
She dishonored GOD’s name.
We just happen to be standing in the line of fire.
It’s a subtle shift but it makes a huge difference in the way we respond, the way we parent. Instead of taking up a dull and tarnished sword of clay to defend our earthly honor, we realize we need to pick up the sharp two-edged sword of the Word of God and put ourselves on His side of this battle.Instead of taking up a dull and tarnished sword of clay to defend our earthly honor, we realize… Click To Tweet
We realize it’s not about us at all. It’s about the precious, eternal soul that has been entrusted to us. It’s about not giving Satan any ground but standing firm on the Truth.
Recognizing this core truth will take away the personal offense we experience in this Epic War of Parenting. Instead of anger and frustration that our child has disobeyed us yet again, we’ll see the Devil for what he is and attack him instead of our child.we'll see the Devil for what he is and attack him instead of our child. Click To Tweet
Victory in the Battle
This epiphany dawned on me after one of those parenting battles we fought through. We knew our son was lying to us but he was refusing to admit it. At first we were frustrated, then angry, trying to force a confession out of him.
Yeah, that didn’t work.
Then we were pleading and encouraging him to be honest with us, explaining to him repeatedly that the initial issue was not a big deal at all (he had knocked over a potted plant and left it there), and that if he’d simply come to us and confessed, we would have helped him clean it up and moved on. As it was, he was getting in big trouble because he refused to be honest about it.
Finally, my husband and I had a little conference, one borne out of desperation. What could we do? We knew for certain that he had lied. We also wanted him to understand that no matter what kind of mistake he makes, we want him to tell us so that we can help him learn from it and grow from it. We don’t want him to hide from his mistakes and sins and pretend they don’t exist.
As we were talking, it occurred to me that the real issue here wasn’t the fact that he lied to us. The real issue was that Satan was winning a battle, and winning big time. Our son was giving in to fear and guilt and the temptation brought on by those fears. Instead of finding grace and mercy in repentance and confession, he was working his way into a dark pit of guilt and deceit.
So my husband went back to our son and told him straight up that he was losing a spiritual battle with Satan. He explained it with an illustration from Star Wars of all things! Then he reminded him of the spiritual armor and weapons he had at his disposal for winning the battle: the belt of truth and the Sword of the Spirit, namely.
Would you believe that in just a few minutes our son had humbled himself and confessed all? We had previously spent a solid half hour or more, trying everything from cajoling to threatening to no avail.
The difference was in the battle we were fighting. Instead of fighting against our son, we shifted our aim to fight against the real enemy. And instead of trying to use pointless earthly weapons, we picked up the real weapons. And we put ourselves on the right side of the battle – God’s side. We shifted our perspective from ourselves to our God.
And victory was ours!
So, battle-weary parent. Don’t give up the fight! But fight smart. This battle isn’t about you. It’s about war over the sacred space of your child’s soul, and it’s meant to be fought with spiritual weapons. Polish off that double-edged sword of Truth. Bend your knees and battle in prayer. Disregard your own feelings, desires, and issues, and line up in God’s army. Aim your weapon at the real target. Resist the devil and watch him flee.