Don’t Take Your Eyes Off of Jesus

By Nadia Marinaccio

The woes of parenting are often too much to tolerate, aren’t they? One moment you are bringing home your bundle of joy, swaddled in a hospital blanket that you will no doubt save until you have grandchildren and can pass it on to them. Suddenly you are the parent of a teenager, and plunged head first into the most heart wrenching fight of your life. You wonder what on earth happened to your sweet angel who could do no wrong, your cuddle bug, your lil protégé that looked up to you and desired your approval and smile.

If you are entering this role of being the parent of a rebellious teenager for the first time you are no doubt trying to figure out what went wrong. How did we end up here? For me I can honestly say that because I was a child myself at the age of 22, I treated her as if she were my lil doll, and my friend. I couldn’t wait to dress her up, and take her out. I had messed up so much already in my short life and all I wanted was to prove to the world that I could do something right.( It wasn’t about her. It was about me validating myself. Wow, that truth is too deep and honest for somebody.) I thought it was adorable when she mimicked me, especially because I have a funny personality and like to do impersonations of various ethnicities and celebrities. She followed in my footsteps and became just as sassy and silly as her mamma. In hindsight, I remember some veteran parents warning me to get that sassiness under control, but I didn’t listen, after all I was a “grown woman” myself (NOT!) and had it all figured it out. Besides, they were talking to someone who didn’t think it was necessary to pick up a single solitary parenting book because “how hard could this whole parenting thing be?” How I wish I could reverse the hands of time and start over, but alas this is life and I have to endure the consequences of my hardheadedness.

The rollercoaster ride of being the parent of a rebellious teenager has just begun for me. My seatbelt is on, the roller bar pulled down tight to make sure I don’t fall out when we are upside down screaming our heads off, and finally we are lurching forward down the track. As we make our ascent I realize we shouldn’t be on this ride. What was I thinking? It’s too late to realize I am afraid of heights. Next thing you know, we are plummeting down at 80miles an hour, with your stomach in your throat hoping nothing comes out. Oh NO!! Here comes the upside down loops! I am too old to be doing this! Up and down, racing, spinning, screaming, holding on for dear life is the rollercoaster adventure of a teenage parent. Finally the ride is over, you exhale and thank God he kept you alive. You can’t wait to get off, but suddenly it starts again! Are you serious? How many more years of this do I have to endure? She is 13 now, so do the math!

The greatest lesson I have learned as a parent of a rebellious teenager is to remember Ephesians 6:12 which says our struggle is not 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. It is easy to direct our anger at the visible source of our frustration but we must be diligent to remember that there is a dangerous incognito enemy who is searching the earth, seeking whom he may devour(1Peter 5:8). He is the master of illusions and has disguised himself in the body of your teenager. Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example of how I know this to be true. We know the enemy was once an angel and a worship leader in heaven. He became selfish and wanted the worship for himself and of course he was cast out of heaven with a third of the angels. He was stripped of his ability to worship so he and his minions work diligently to have the world as we know it worship him. Most of the world is unaware of his subtle stronghold on them, but nonetheless it is present and dangerous.

One day my daughter and I were in the car and we were listening to her worldly, vile rap music which I loathe. She was happy as a clam, singing along to disgusting lyrics. I had enough of her music so I put in one of my worship cd’s. Visibly, within minutes she became very agitated at the sound of worship music and proceeded to cover her ears and shake her leg nervously. That spirit in her had been agitated and the more I sang along and praised God the more distressing it became to her.

The enemy attacks us because we have now been able to take his place as worshippers with the angels that remain. He attacks anything and everything in this world that has a purpose for Christ. You have never been assaulted until you start living for Christ and bringing precious souls into the Kingdom.

I believe one of the greatest ways you can defeat the enemy at his game is to remember who you are warring with. Your child is not your enemy. I know it feels like it at times. Especially when they are rebelling against you and God, but we must be mindful that we don’t allow our anger to control us. The negative behavior has to be addressed sternly and in love. So many times I have almost lost myself in my fury and acted in ways that God would not condone. It’s so difficult in those times to look at my child and say to myself “I don’t care what this looks like, Lord I trust you and I know we will come out of this and when we do, we will help to encourage others going through the same thing.”

Secondly, you have to know who you are in Christ. Know that you have been appointed by God to be the caretaker of this child. God has given you this child, for you to raise, love and encourage. I am not saying for you to be a rug and allow your child to trample all over you. What I am saying is stay focused on Christ who is the author and finisher of your faith. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and you must not faint in well-doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not.

Look at this passage in Matthew 14:22-26

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other sidewhileHe dismissed the crowdsAfter dismissing the crowdsHe went up on the mountain by Himself to prayWhen evening cameHe was there aloneBut the boat was already over a mile from land,battered by the wavesbecause the wind was against them. Around three in the morning, He cametoward them walking on the seaWhen the disciples saw Him walking on the seathey were terrified. “It’s a ghost! ” they saidand cried out in fear.

What is beautiful about this passage of scripture is the time that elapsed. It was evening time that Jesus took notice of them. They were a mile offshore and were being battered by the waves, yet Jesus doesn’t come to them til 3 in the morning. I want to encourage you to know that just because he hasn’t come yet, doesn’t mean he doesn’t see your struggle. He knows you are being thrown around by the rebellion in your house, but don’t give up because he’s coming to you in His time walking on the water. We know immediately after this, Peter asks Jesus to bid him to come out on the water. While Peter is walking on the water the winds rose against him and he began to sink. Jesus doesn’t allow Him to sink though until Peter is within reach. It may feel like you have drowned in this season of parenting but take heart and know that you are within an arms-reach of your savior and he will pull you out and bring you to dry ground. Your job is to keep your focus on Him while you are sinking. Christ calls us to walk on water because it is impossible and he knows by ourselves we wouldn’t make it, but when we keep our eyes on him, all things are possible.

We are in spiritual warfare over our children. Satan wants them but he can’t have them. They are children of God, called and sanctified for God’s purpose. No matter what it looks like, you keep speaking God’s promises over your child. See your child healed and in their right mind, following Christ, lifting others out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Do not lose hope or despair, your labor is not in vain and Jesus will prevail in your child! If satan steals your hope, than you might as well give him your child. Your hope in Christ is the only thing you can count on. Don’t’ take your eyes off of Jesus!