In full disclosure, I honestly don’t always know how to help my kids navigate the stress and trauma of life. They have a sibling who is frequently in the hospital. That takes its toll. But specifically, I realize that our family is a threat to the enemy. Thus, we often have a target on our backs. I don’t always know how to give them a scope for this.
Truthfully, after 20 years of walking with the Lord I am still learning to navigate it for myself. I’m learning to trust God’s character in spite of my circumstances. I’m learning to rest in to the goodness of God when the swirling winds of confusion, chaos, and discouragement try to blow me over. I have life experience that testifies to God’s goodness and unrelenting redemption. I’ve seen my ashes turn to beauty overnight. But I sometimes feel helpless watching my kids walk through fire with me.
In many ways I feel that the world around us glorifies suicide. I’ve observed an ongoing narrative that paints suicide as beautiful, a basic human right, or even an art form. It is everywhere! And this is the world in which I will be raising my kids.
I love a good musical! I especially love a good musical when it has a great musical score. However, I am horrified by the popularity of Dear Evan Hansen. I also admit that I love the vocal stylings of Lewis Capaldi. I found myself singing “Before You Go” out loud in front of my kids and didn’t think anything of it. At first. I knew better than to read or watch 13 Reasons Why. However, I stepped back a minute and wondered why it was so wildly popular.
A friend in Australia recently reintroduced me to “The Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan. God directed me to reread the part of the story where the main character, Christian was locked in the dungeon of despair. Christian was locked in a cage and surrounded by the bones of other humans that had perished there. All day and all night giants would come in to the dungeon and whisper:
“You will never amount to anything”.
“You have no future.”
“Nobody cares about you.”
“You are worthless.”
“You are nothing but a screw up.”
Christian almost succumbed to the gravity of the whispers. But he looked around and suddenly realized WHY he was surrounded by bones. The giants didn’t actually kill the people before him. The giant just made them feel so hopeless that they killed themselves. Christian remembered that at the cross he was given a key. It was called “hope”. He reached in his pocket, pulled out hope, unlocked the cage, and walked out of the dungeon of despair.
That gave me an idea. My kids and I watched A Pilgrims Progress together. Twice. We debriefed about many things but focused on the dungeon of despair. I then presented each of my kids with a tangible key. Each key was ornate metal, just like the one Christian carried the movie. I showed them where I had already placed a key hook in each of their closets.
I then told them that if they ever found themselves in the dungeon of despair and heard the unrelenting whispers of the giants in their head, they should simply bring me their key. They wouldn’t have to explain anything. They wouldn’t have to talk at all. The key would talk for them and tell me that they needed help finding hope. The act of presenting the key to me would represent my commitment to walk with them and enter into that despair with them. From that place I would stop at nothing to fight for them. They wouldn’t have to fight alone. With Gods help, I would unlock their cage and we would walk out together.
I hold on to the hope that my kids will watch how I handle opposition and will learn from that. I’ve heard that kids learn more from observing us than from listening to us. Words fall short but how we live our lives leaves a lasting impact. My hope is that they will learn how to fight their battles through rest, trust, and authority. But if they can’t, I will gladly receive their key and fight their battles with them.