The sound of the screen door slamming shut inches from my face took my breath away. He hesitated for a moment, glaring back at me through the pollen-stained glass window that separated us. He would never admit it, but I knew he was checking to ensure the door did not hit me. He didn’t know how badly I needed that momentary glimpse of my sweet and loving son.
It seemed like just yesterday when I stood in front of the elementary school entrance doors with two tiny arms wrapped around my legs. The little red-haired boy with blue eyes who stole my heart looked up at me and, through tears, said, “Mommy, I just want to stay with you.” Luckily, the caring teachers were able to coax him inside with promises of fun and games.
Still, when the final bell rang and the doors swung open at the end of the school day, that same little boy with the blue eyes who stole my heart leaped into my arms as he excitedly told me about his adventures of the day.
Now that little boy is a preteen who can’t stand to be in the same house as me.
Early in my role as a mother, I learned this would be the most challenging job I have ever had. From miscarriages to bed rest and a bout of colic, it was as if I was given a crash course in motherhood within 16 months. And while I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I never expected it to be this hard. I am not talking about the countless sleepless nights and never-ending loads of laundry. I am talking about the punch to the gut heartbreak you feel when your child is hurting and you are failing at connecting with them.
I opened the front door and stepped onto the porch. The cold cement felt soothing under my feet, grounding me as I watched my son turn the corner of our block and out of my sight. A small part of me wanted to go back into the house, lock the door, and soak up a few moments of solitude, but a bigger part of me wanted to chase him down the street and scoop him up in my arms just as I have a million other times when he would get hurt. But this was no scraped knee from a fall—how can I make this hurt feel better if I don’t even know what it is? Was it the hormones, typical teenage angst, or a result from the pandemic lockdown, secluding our only child from much social interaction?
I flopped down on the porch swing and texted my closest girlfriends my frustrations. Two of them have kids older than me, and I knew I could turn to them for valuable wisdom. I shut my eyes for a moment, rubbing my temples, my mind swirling in every direction. The vibration of my phone snapped me back from my thoughts. It was a reply from one of my friends . . .
“Girl, you need to fight this battle in prayer. You are a prayer warrior.”
A prayer warrior.
Mothers are natural warriors when protecting their children, especially when it is a physical or emotional threat. You know those mama bear moments when your instincts tell you something is not right, and you find yourself defending your child or catching them mid-fall. We fiercely protect and fight for our children when it comes to worldly problems, but the Word of God says we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
The sound of the gate shutting brought me to my feet as my son made his way up the porch steps. I opened my arms as he collapsed into me. The blue eyes that stole my heart were unrecognizable as he spoke, “Mom, I don’t want to be angry all the time. I don’t know what is wrong, but sometimes I wish I wasn’t even alive.” Those words brought out the mama bear in me. Sure we did everything we had to, including therapy and doctor appointments, but this meant WAR.
Like Pat Benatar said in her classic ’80s hit, “love is a battlefield,” and we mothers need to prepare for battle. It is time to replace our contour palettes for war paint, the latest self-help books for The Word, and be sure to put on the full armor of God every single day. We should not be afraid to lay it all down at His feet because the truth is as much as it hurts us to see our child struggling, it hurts our Father in heaven so much more.
Instead of battling my son, I began to battle for my son.
My prayers were more like battle cries, “Lord, please help my son,” I uttered through tears. I needed God to meet my son in the places I couldn’t even if I tried. On the most challenging days, I would lay awake at night wrestling in prayer on behalf of my son. I told God I wasn’t letting go, and I meant it.
Slowly but surely, there was a breakthrough. The heaviness began to lift, and we finally saw the boy we once knew come back into our lives. He started to war alongside us in prayer, a discipline he will need to have as he continues to grow into a man in a world full of disappointments, temptations, and struggles.
Life is full of many battles along the way, much like war. However, we don’t need to be fearful because Jesus has already won the war for us. So pick up your sword, mama, and prepare to fight. Oh, and one more piece of advice, get yourself some godly and praying girlfriends because soldiers don’t fight alone.