"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,"
It seems like yesterday I was existing on about two hours of sleep a night, constantly covered in baby puke and poo, and couldn't tell you what day it was or when I had last eaten or showered. Looking back on that season of parenting is a little like a war veteran remembering the trauma of the fox hole, except PTSD for parents stands for Parental Trauma from Stinking Diapers. I still carry the dark memories of showing up to church with two different shoes on, walking through the grocery store covered in breast milk after I had leaked all over myself because someone's kid over in aisle eight was crying, and taught an entire ballet class with baby poop on my shirt. I can recall driving 30 minutes to work with a screaming baby with bad reflux strapped into a car seat and praying I didn't lose my mind. It's a time that seems to have no end, yet it does end.
And so now I find myself in a new season. My youngest is nearly 8. Everyone showers by themselves, feeds themselves, and potties by themselves.
Well, sort of, but close enough.
I sleep mostly through the night, except for a certain cat who thinks 3 am is a great time to play and whose "accidental" demise I might be plotting. I take showers longer than 2 minutes with my head inside instead of outside the shower door listening for trauma. My coffee is usually hot when I drink it, and I can sit down and eat a meal or two in relative peace.
Parenting is seemingly easier.
Or is it?
I now have two teenagers, a pre-teen and an adolescent who thinks she's 25. Instead of guerilla warfare parenting in the trenches, it's like high-stakes espionage with foreign agents.
As parents, we spend the first 6-7 years worrying about bodily functions, broken bones, and temper tantrums. Fevers and choking hazards. Strangers and kidnappers.
And then, magically, our kids turn into these self-sufficient, able-bodied little beings. We feel like just maybe we can take a breath or two. But I was reminded recently that the years between 6 and 14, adolescence and middle school, are the years that our kids define their identity. Before 6, their exposure to the world is through us, their parents. Now peers and outside influences begin to impact them, challenging them and what they believe. Dangers come in technology, websites, and other people's opinions and lifestyles. Suddenly, we realize we're still in the battle. We just have to change our strategy.
I'll be the first to admit that it can feel overwhelming. Some days it would be so easy for me just to check out. But then a day like May 24th arrives. Just a seemingly innocuous, so-close-to-the-end-of-the-year day in a tiny Texas town. A day that changes the trajectory of 21 lives, a city, a state, a country. And we find ourselves face to face with our own mortality. In the midst of grief and evil, we are reminded truly, that there is no promise for tomorrow. We must redeem whatever time we are given.
What will I do with that knowledge?
Redeeming the time.
This limited time is all I have. I can't walk in fear and worry over what I can't control, but I can give God control. I can pour into my kids words of life, the tools to continue to build on the foundation that has been established, and the knowledge of who they are in Christ.
We can't be with our kids 24/7, protecting them from every danger, but WE are the watchmen on the wall for our family. As they get older, it becomes less about us talking at them as it does about us talking to God for them.
Praying over their friends, their careers, and even their future spouses.
Watching over them in faith and courage.
A thousand voices in the world scream at them and the enemy of their souls schemes day and night for a way to trip them.
Yet greater is He that is within us.
Now is not the time for slumber or to become weary. No one can keep watch over our own Jerusalem as we can. These days are filled with trouble.