A Letter from a Mom in the Trenches

Jen Jabbour

Contributing Writer
Published May 23, 2024
A Letter from a Mom in the Trenches

I wasn’t ready that one time when God told me in order to save my children I had to let them go.

I’m in the trenches, and, y'all, I gotta tell you, it’s some kind of crazy beautiful. It’s a mix of every emotion one can have, and sometimes I experience them all at once. 

As I write this, I hope I can look back one day and see how God’s threads of grace, love, and mercy were woven through every hurt, fear, and doubt. I hope I remember all that God did for us. Maybe I’ll even give this to my kids when they start to deal with parenting woes.

I especially pray that whoever reads this finds some comfort, and, at least, takes heart in knowing they are not alone. 

God’s Response to My Confession

Sometimes, I find myself asking God, “Why me? What did I ever do to deserve the kind of pain my heart has to endure as I watch my children walk straight into enemy territory?” It’s hard not to take it personally. I admit that I do. I make it about me. I wrongly assume the reason why my children go astray is because I somehow failed them as a mom.

When I question God, He envelops me with His love, the Holy Spirit stirs in my heart, and He reminds me, “My beloved, it’s never been about you.” His voice is unmistakable amidst times of deep discouragement as His words bring the necessary comfort, strength, and courage to release my grip and surrender something that was never mine to keep in the first place.

In case you ever wonder, it’s okay to question God—just be prepared for the answers. They’re not always the ones we want to hear. I wasn’t ready that one time when God told me in order to save my children I had to let them go. 

It was at a time when I found myself wallowing in a dark place before I finally cried out to God. Upon hearing His reassuring voice, I surrendered to Him by praying this prayer of release:

“I give them to you. They are yours. I trust your ways, your plan, your intervention, or even your lack of intervention because your ways are higher than mine. You know all that has been and all that is to come. You know my children better than I do. You know their thoughts and their whereabouts. Nothing surprises you. I trust you to let me know when I need to know what I need to know. I leave them in your hands.”

As I surrendered to God, I felt comfort in the reassurance that as much as I love my children, He loves them even more.

Parenting Amidst Spiritual Battles 

Oh, it gets wild. Let me tell you, being a mom of teenagers, especially in this world where everything seems so upside down, is not for the faint of heart. 

In the in-between moments of deep heartache and trusting God, I find myself praying without ceasing and screaming at Satan to leave my family alone. In the past few years, I’ve felt under attack more than ever. Without God by my side, I would be utterly helpless.

Sometimes I think that the enemy uses our children as a means to attack us; to distract us from responding to God’s calling on our life. A few years ago, I decided I was ready to heed God’s call and start using my writing skills for His kingdom. It wasn’t long after I started writing that our family fell under attack. For the first time since I was a child, I felt a dark cloud in my home. 

Despite trying to do everything right, when our son turned 18, something sinister grasped onto him, enticing him to stray from the truth and take hold of the ways of the world. There’s no worse feeling than the dread and fear that comes with knowing the enemy has a stronghold in the life of someone you love. 

Like a flash flood, we were suddenly surrounded by the flood waters of our sorrows as he slipped from our grasp. The devil had a hold on him and there was absolutely nothing we could do except cry out to God.

Looking back, it’s almost embarrassing—the raw guttural sounds I made as I felt myself losing my grip on my own flesh and blood; my first child, whom I carried for nine months, my little buddy who once memorized the entire chapter of Psalm 23 when he was four years old, who asked Jesus into his heart at VBS. 

Little by little our son found his way back home. It was several months later, and I cried even more, but this time it was tears of joy. Our prodigal had returned. God was faithful, and He kept His promise to us!

Even though we had won that battle, I knew there would be more to come. It’s been a little over a year since he returned, and while he may have pushed past enemy territory and lived to tell about it, I still worry for our daughter who’s coming up behind him. I can only cling to the one truth that never changes—God is victorious. 

The Fall Is Inevitable, So Be Prepared

When your children are little and everything they say and do is innocent and cute, it’s hard to imagine that they will ever do something that breaks your heart. The first time they do it is like a punch in the gut. I wasn’t at all prepared the first time it happened. I guess you could say I’m a seasoned veteran now. I fought from the trenches, down on my knees, clutching the Bible, and I will absolutely do it again if I have to. But next time, I won’t be caught off guard. I’ll be prepared.

So you may be wondering, how do you prepare for the fall? 

Oh, how it hurts to watch our children fall, doesn’t it? Yet, as much as it stings, it’s part of the process. We know they’re going to fall. We have to live in expectation that it is going to happen.

When they learn how to walk, it’s inevitable that they will fall and skin their knees. We run to them, consoling them, kissing their boo-boos, and wiping away their tears. On the difficult days, I find myself longing for my children to be that little again. Those days were exhausting, but at least my heart was still intact.

As they grow up and insist on spreading their wings of independence, we find that we are now the ones crying as we watch them start making choices that could change the path of their life forever.

My advice to you goes back to that day when my heart walked out the door and into the world, when God told me that he wasn't mine to keep. Our children do not belong to us but to Him. If we can keep that in perspective and remember that God placed these children in our care for only a season to guide, discipline, and, most of all, to love, then it makes it that much easier to hand them back over to Him.

We’re Not Alone

Oh, how it hurts and, oh, how lonely it is when our children disappoint us. Too many times, I sat alone on my island, soaking in my tears, keeping my thoughts and worst fears to myself. It’s a very lonely place to dwell, and it’s a place we aren’t meant to dwell.

When my children make mistakes, I tend to keep them to myself. I analyze my mothering and realize it’s two-fold: I’m trying to protect them and I’m trying to protect myself. I don't want anyone thinking differently of them and I don't want others to judge my parenting abilities. 

Once I identified the reasons behind this behavior, I named them for what they were—lies from the enemy. The truth is, we are all struggling with the same issues! But you see, when we keep silent, the enemy wins! This is what he wants us to do. 

He wants to keep us silent, but if we’re going to get through these tough times, we need the bond and strength of community! We need each other! As King Solomon says, "Two are better than one, because when one falls, the other is there to lift us up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9). How are we supposed to bear each other's burdens if we don’t first share them with each other?

Even more devastating than our children doing the unthinkable is them not knowing how much they are loved. The enemy is waiting for such a time as this. When the entire community rallies around them and shields them in God’s love, the enemy might tempt them and cause them to trip and fall, but as long as we keep loving them with agape love, he will not get to keep them.

I leave you with this final prayer: Father, help us to love our children despite the mistakes they’ve made and the ones they will make; let the power of your love carry them through, to push past the enemy’s advances, and always lead them back to your truth.

Signed, Your Fellow Parent, Fighting Alongside You, from the Trenches.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/YorVen

Jennifer Jabbour resides in the scenic San Diego countryside with her husband, adult son, and teen daughter, and their hilarious English Bulldog. Jennifer has a B.A. in Integrated Business Communications, and is a Go + Tell Gals licensed life coach. Jennifer hopes to use her calling of writing, coaching, and speaking to equip and empower women to clarify their vision and to boldly step forward in response to God's calling on their life, as well as educate and encourage others to experience the abundance of God's goodness when they seek Him first in all that they do. Jennifer is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a photographer, and an avid outdoors-woman. She loves camping, hiking, running, and playing the piano in her free time.

You can keep up with Jennifer on her website https://www.jenniferjabbour.com.