Fighting Imaginary Foes


We had a great Christmas.  And then, just as regular routines were to return (and I hoped to begin writing again), things went topsy turvy. I’ll spare you the details, but over the last 8 days – one very long week – our household experienced the flu, strep throat, a broken dryer requiring immediate replacement, a small but inconvenient snowstorm, and a birthday – celebrated over 3 days. My thoughts on the birthday, and how it initiated my plan for the new year, is the topic of this blog post – long overdue.

So – my oldest child turned 12 last week. My kids’ birthdays always give me pause.  Each one is a moment to reflect on the fact that with every passing year, this particular child is showing us more of who he or she is meant be.  But this birthday – 12 – somehow felt like a milestone (and not because my son jokingly told me to say he’s “twelve-teen”).

I remember being 12.  6th grade. Switching classes for the first time. Dealing with a changing body. My school’s motto for the year was, “If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up to Me” and my English teacher, Mrs. Walker, had plastered these words in huge red letters to the classroom ceiling. She wanted us to remember this, to have confidence in ourselves.

But with maturity comes the realization that we can’t really solve every problem we encounter, make everything “be” just the way we’d like it to be.  Some things are always beyond our reach.

To illustrate, I must first acknowledge what every parent learns eventually – that it’s strange, humbling, and frustrating when you see that your kids have inherited some of your traits. I’ve known for years that my oldest cannot see a disturbing image, even for a second, without internalizing it. Just like mine, his mind will revisit the image and animate it through nightmares for days on end until it has finished with it.  The process is upsetting and tiring, and after 42 years, I’ve never found a way to bypass or stop it, except by avoiding media that contains content I suspect will incite the problem.

So, just a few days before his 12th birthday, he had nightmares 2 days in a row after seeing 1 still image for an upcoming horror movie. My husband and I talked to him about what his brain was doing, made him laugh, took his mind off things, and I prayed with him.  On the third night, he asked me to pray with him preemptively, before he went to sleep, and that night (and the nights after) the nightmares did not return.

If the genetic patterns hold true for him, then the vivid dreams that have plagued me will not be just a childhood occurrence for this kid.  They will persist and grow more mature as he matures, encompassing all the sights and sounds of an evil world and fears of an adult mind.

So what can I do for my son? I help him understand our faith and teach him to pray for strength and courage to fight foes – imaginary and real, but beyond that, where do I go?

In prayer, the answer came.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

– 2 Timothy 1:7 

My son is venturing into the adolescent years, and this world would have me be fearful of events to come and what could happen to him.  Currently, these are my imaginary foes, and if I let it, my mind can go to some very dark places.  But I am not going to sit by and worry about my son and the challenges that lie ahead for him.  I choose to trust in the One who loves my son more than me, and so I will ask my Lord to guide and protect my precious child.

Further, praying the Word of God is praying the Will of God.  I pray for my kids, yes, but I want to be quite clear. So, remembering an article I read recently, I took some time to carve out a daily prayer plan for this year, encompassing specific verses of scripture for my sons and daughter, and entrusting them once again to the One for whom nothing is out of reach.


Articles about praying for your children:

“10 Prayers For Your Son” by Brooke McGlothlin and Lisa TerKeurst

10 Prayers For Your Son

“10 Prayers For Your Daughter” by Lisa TerKeurst

10 Prayers For Your Daughter