Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
Devotion 5 in the Summer Series "A Prayer for Armor"
We began our summer devotional series four weeks ago with A Prayer for Armor. The prayer is based on Ephesians 6:14-18; the verse in Ephesians that we're focusing on each week appears in italics in the prayer. Last week we explored the shoes of peace (or rain boots of peace according to the picture!), and this week we're focusing on the shield of faith. How does it function for Moms? Recall this excerpt of our prayer, which I reprint in bold:
With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Whatever shadows haunt us from our past, whatever insecurities gnaw at us behind closed doors, whatever tricks us into thinking that we are not your precious children, root it out. May our faith equip us to stand against old and unhelpful patterns so that we can drink in your grace and create a healthy and thriving world for our children.
This part of our prayer is perhaps the most tender and personal. Just as we are not perfect despite our best parenting efforts, we realize that our own parents weren't either. Some of us were lucky and had the parents we wanted and needed. But some of us had neither and grew up in abusive environments or without one or both parents. And some of us had the parents we needed, but they didn't parent in the way we wanted. Even though our basic needs were met, pain and frustration were daily reminders that the kind of relationship we wanted with them was not possible.
Whatever your childhood experiences were, all of us have scars. Pastor Joel Osteen is a champion of encouraging us to view the past as past and unlock the limitless possibilities of the future. He believes that even a difficult past cannot hold us back from blessing if we chose to live faithfully. It's a powerful message of hope. He invites his audience to believe in new life out of ashes, just as Christ's resurrection promises us.
It's important to remember that a past that has not been healed can be repeated. What that means is that if we have not healed from childhood scars, we are at risk of repeating them ourselves. Some people cannot grow up fast enough in an effort to leave the past behind and never look back. It's an understandable response in the face of pain, but unfortunately not a helpful one. Although this effort might appear freeing, it is simply burying pain. And that which is buried will resurface in one way or another.
When I served as a hospital chaplain for two years, I saw Christ as Healer. I saw Christ desire connection with those who were isolated, speak love to those who felt rejected, and impart hope in physical and emotional brokenness. I am convinced that Christ as Healer wants to work in each of our lives too, nursing our scars back to a better and stronger self. It takes an environment of trust, a hunger for growth in love, and a willingness to face the truth to accept his invitation.
It is not through burying our scars but through facing them that we can be truly set free. We can invite Christ into any pain in our past and allow God to be the Perfect Parent that only God can be. There is strength in our brokenness. We worship a God who "redeems our life from the Pit, who crowns us with steadfast love and mercy...so that our youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psalm 103:4-5). We worship a God who not only can heal us, but make us better parents for our own children as we experience the power of his love through faith.
To pray, you are invited back to the full prayer from week one by clicking here: A Prayer for Armor.
Have you seen Christ work through your scars? If so, please comment below!