Dear Church family,
Today's email is specifically and especially for the parents of young kids out there. (The rest of you are also welcome to read "over the shoulder."
Parents, God sees you. I see you! Well, I haven't actually seen much of you for the past 6 months but I have checked in with some of you and I am beginning to get a picture of what your lives must be like. I'm guessing that it's pretty darn stressful! You may say, "Well, aren't we all stressed?"
Yes, we are all stressed and living beyond normal capacity.
Yes, parents of older kids are dealing with distance learning too.
Yes, everyone has a unique kind of suffering at this time.
But God has put you on my heart and I really feel the need to share two scriptures and one practical exercise for the brothers and sisters out there who are parenting elementary-aged kids or younger right now. Here they are:
- “One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Part of living out God's will in your life is to always be asking yourself, "How can I seek help from others so that I might be stronger, wiser and more enduring?" If you are feeling like you are a rope made of one or half a cord, who are the second or third cords that God is providing for you? Text someone to ask for prayer. Have an honest conversation with someone you trust this week. So much difficulty occurs because we try to go it alone.
- "Have mercy on me, God. Have mercy on me. I go to you for safety. I will find safety in the shadow of your wings. There I will stay until the danger is gone” (Psalm 57:1). Remember who is in control. In wildly changing days on this earth, in upheavals of human emotion, God is the only one who can give you true and lasting peace. As you keep going to God, He will teach you to have your sense of peace be based on Him rather than on your circumstances. Your kids might be screaming. You might be screaming. You need to remember that there is safety in the shadow of God's wings. That means you don't have to be the one who is in control or even the ultimate authority of your household. But you do have to GO TO GOD to benefit from the safety of His authority in your life and household.
- Here is a great practical exercise for when you are overwhelmed. Tim Sanford, the clinical director at Focus on the Family, suggests a technique that he calls “3 x 5 + 1.” It is a fantastic way to focus your attention on what is happening around you at that moment, rather than on the things that are causing a bad reaction in you:
- Look around you. Name 5 colors that you see.
- Listen to your surroundings. Name 5 sounds that you hear.
- Name 5 things that you can physically feel, such as the collar of your shirt against your neck or the breeze blowing across your skin.
Once you have gone through each of these 3 categories and listed 5 things each, ask yourself this 1 last question: “What do I need to be thinking about right now?” This technique of observing your surroundings is a great way to calm down and pull your mind back into the present. Go ahead and try it right now! It's pretty effective.
Finally, here is a prayer specifically for you. Remember that you don't have to make up a prayer to have it be good and effective. Sometimes, it helps just to pray prayers that someone else wrote but is applicable to our lives.
A prayer for parents:
O Lord, you who promise to guide us through the wilderness and to protect us through the storm, I ask that you would make me wise when I cannot clearly see the way forward, make me brave when I feel afraid, make me strong in the face of my weakness, and make possible what to me seems impossible, so that I might joyfully entrust myself and my children into your tender care in these trying and troubling times. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Finally, as I mentioned above, I have always found it more effective to pray with others, so just a reminder that we have a special prayer group that meets on Thursday nights at 9 on Zoom. This time frame was designed to meet the needs of parents with young children who are not able to easily participate in a church group otherwise. We hope that while the kiddos are asleep you will have an opportunity to get in touch with God while praying with and for others, and also receive prayer if you need it. It’s a 40-minute prayer time. You can find more information or join the prayer time here.
I am praying for you.