Parenting is such a rollercoaster, isn’t it? There are highs and lows and everything in between. When I was a young mom, I thought it would ONLY be about teaching my children how to be polite, responsible and respectful. I didn’t understand that part of my parental duties were to teach and equip them how to handle the “underworld” of our life.
Today I’m going to tackle this topic: what to do when your child gets sucked into that underworld.
(Our podcast player looks a little different this week...they changed some things.)
If you’ve never really heard our story and if you are a young mom, I suggest that you stop reading this post and go jump into our series for moms entitled“Raising Strong Children.” It’s an important series and it will give you eyes to see the road ahead. If your oldest child is under the age of 14, go ahead and jump over there.
For those of you that have older children, I write this post for you. What to do when our children are caught in serious sin? How to handle that? What to do?
I will just tell you that this post has been difficult to think about (I do my first draft in my head) not because it is a difficult topic, but rather because there are SO MANY different THINGS that we can do as parents.
I didn’t want to turn this post into a Three Step Process, making us think that perfection was the goal and that it could be attained by a system.
Instead...I want to take a giant step back and just look at the landscape.
What do we know about the world?
Well, there are a lot of good as well as a lot of bad influences in our world.
Our children are in the world. They will be influenced by good as well as the bad.
But let’s not fall into “if/then” parenting, where “If they are good, then they are perfect,” or even “If my children do life as I see that they should, then that means I am a great parent.”
If/then parenting is about behavior. When we judge the success of our child and of our parenting on behaviors, well, that sets up the dominos. When our children make bad decisions, we will see the dominos falling. And we will feel like all is lost. We have failed.
Friends. Jesus Christ came for the lost. He loves sinners. I am smiling as I type this. He.came.for.you.and.me. And yes, He came for our kiddos.
Our children need to be found. They need to have those moments of conversion when they are seen ~as they are~ and know that they are still loved.
As that happens, they will rise up and do this powerful thing called integration, where all of their parts work together for the good in their life.
How is that done? Well, geez, guys, it’s done by God. It’s not done by us. Yes, we love our children, but we basically mess them up most of the time.
God is big enough for our children. How do I know this? Well, He was big enough for me. I was lost. And He found me. Over the years of my life, He has revealed more and more of Himself. I have learned that I am redeemed.
What does that word mean? Redemption = buying something back, or paying a price to return something to your possession. Freeing someone from chains, prison or slavery.
I love this definition: “Deliverance from some evil by payment of a price.”
This is so much bigger than you and me. There was a huge war. It was waged in the most unconventional way. A baby was sent. But that baby was not only human, He was also God.
And when that God-Man was killed, His Body died, bringing His Spirit into the underworld, where He imploded death.
He waged war against evil and He won. He set us free from the chains of sin and death.
And HIS WORK was big enough for you and it is big enough for your children.
I know this is difficult to understand, my peon brain cannot truly get this: “We are living the now and not yet.” ~Ruth Chou Simons
Think about this: Jesus came and kicked some satanic booty. He defeated evil. At our baptism, we were transferred into His Kingdom. And now, we live between two worlds. We build homes here on earth. But our eternal home is in heaven. We have bodies that are decaying (some quicker than others says the mom of 8 that just turned 55 years old…) yet we will live forever. Everything is ours now in Christ. Yet at the very same time, it’s not yet fully realized.
So. What to do when our children are in sin?
Trust in the spectacular, transformative process that occurs in a relationship that is centered on unconditional love.
The goal is integration (a personal understanding of redemption) of all of their parts, including their nasty parts. (You truly represent God to your child. That's why it's crucial that you have your own "below the line" experience with this, so you can give what you have received!)
(If this doesn’t make sense to you, start with this post:
“What it Means to Parent Below the Line”.)
And finally, pray.
There is immense power in prayer.
When my son Eric was entrenched in his pornography addiction (for those of you that don’t know his story, read this series: “Raising Strong Kids” to find out more) I was devastated on many levels.
There was nothing that I could do, on my own, to get him out of that quicksand.
I knew he was struggling. I knew he knew that I knew. He knew I loved him. Yet. The struggle continued.
What could I do? Well, I decided to go into a prayer assault of sorts for Eric. Hmm…I love that imagery. A prayer offensive.
My prayer of choice was/is the Holy Rosary. I love love love the rosary. I love Our Beautiful Mother. No matter your faith background, she is your spiritual mother. Why? Because of Jesus. She is where He is.
In the book, “In Sinu Jesu: When Hearts Speaks to Heart” it says many powerful things about the SHOWERS of graces that fall from the hands of our Mother, into our souls, when we pray.
“Be faithful to her Rosary. It is the shield and sword of spiritual combat. It assures your victory over the powers of darkness. Why? Because it is a humble prayer that binds the soul who prays it to the victory of My Mother over the ancient serpent.” (Genesis 3:15, Rev 12:9, 20:2) Page 59
So I picked up my beads. My prayer: “Mary, you are a mother. You know the love I have for my son. Make it actually better that Eric was caught in this sin. Use it to glorify God in some way.”
I knew that evil could be turned to good. And I prayed for that intention. Every day.
My confidence and trust were high. God is bigger than evil. Remember how he treats the demons in the Gospels? When Jesus says “Be silent” to the demons in Mark 1:25, there is not this epic struggle. They obey. He sets a man free from a demon as easily as you or I would squash a bug.
How were my prayers answered? First, Eric let Jesus into his underworld. Jesus saw. And loved. Which, of course, broke my son in all the right places.
Over the course of time, Eric started to integrate all of his fragmented pieces of self…those places where he felt shame and those places where he felt strong. He learned how to get curious when he fell. He took it all to Jesus and asked for discernment and understanding.
And this is the best part; as he found liberation, he turned and liberated others. Eric is a strong speaker in this realm. He.speaks.of.his.struggle. What strength. It's actually amazing to witness.
I recently went to a presentation where a young man gave his testimony. He said he had fallen into the trap of pornography and couldn’t get out. Then he heard a guy (Eric Doerneman) speak about it in a way that made sense to him. What happened: this young man was liberated. He says he wants to be just like Eric and help others. And he is doing just that.
So. Trust in God. Trust that He has your child. And PRAY with that confidence and yes, be bold in your prayer. Ask for conversion. Ask for the biggest gifts to be given to your child.
I want to close with this. This morning, as I was thinking about YOU and how powerful YOUR prayer is, my friend Tammy Cook sent this to me via group text:
"Prayer is an all-efficient panoply [i.e. 'a full suit of armor' or 'splendid array'], a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch's power... I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted - this is the prayer which mounts to heaven... The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good."
~ St. John Chrysostom
Your child is good. Prayer has the power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good.
Pray for your children.
And. I also believe that the prayers implored in the middle of the night, when all of the world is asleep, are incredibly powerful. So the next time you get up in the middle of the night for something, take two minutes on your knees. Intercede for your babies during that time.
P.S. Here is the recipe I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast: Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai.
I know that adding this as a post script might seem like it doesn't fit, but learning how to eat in a way that nourishes me came about from a spiritual conversion! God is so good. He cares about all of our struggles.
I share all of that in this special online course: INSIDE OUT.
As a bonus for that course, I created a recipe booklet of all of my favorite foods.
From a user: "I LOVE this recipe book! I love that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy free, and sugar free, I don’t have to think about any substitutions and the recipes are tried and truly amazing! I cannot get enough of the white chicken stew, taco rice bowls. And my kids and I eat through a batch of date balls and banana muffins each week! Looking forward to trying all of the recipes!! Thank you for creating this-it’s a game changer!"
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