If ever there was a season when we find ourselves regularly needing some encouraging words for our daughters, it is now. Amid this culture of instability and uncertainty, Heather Wagner shares how we can raise girls who fight in faith like warriors instead of cowering to worry and fear.
My 5-year-old turned and locked eyes with me in the stands. It was the first year he’d played coach-pitch baseball, and things were still a little shaky at the plate. Usually his dad and older brother were there, but since our older son also had a game that evening, it was just me and our daughter in the Wagner family cheer section.
He looked worried, so I clapped enthusiastically, and gave him a thumbs up. “It’s okay, baby!” I shouted through cupped hands,“It’s okay. You’ve got this!” He nodded and turned to face the next pitch.
A Moment of Anxiety
Honestly, friends, I wasn’t sure he had it. Not quite. Not yet. The skills he was learning at practice were developing, but our little guy was more interested in standing on second base and doing the sprinkler than paying attention to the game.
“Ball!” the umpire called out in a rough voice.“Good eye, good eye, J!” his coach yelled from the dugout. Two balls later, a tiny bit of anxiousness danced around in my stomach, but when strike two flew over the plate, my daughter and I pressed a little closer together.
Facing a full count, my son stepped out of the batter’s box and put his bat down on the red dirt. “Mom?” my daughter whispered. “What’s he doing?” At first, I thought he was tying his shoe. But then he stood up, folded his little hands, and began to pray from the heart, loudly.
A Display of Trust
“Dear Jesus, please help me hit this ball…”
The conversation in the bleachers stopped.
The dugouts fell silent.
Time stood still.
I’d told my kids they could pray about anything, and there he was doing it. I should’ve felt happy. So why did I feel afraid? Was I worried because he was putting God on the spot? No. That’s not where my fear came from. I was afraid of what might happen if the answer was no.
A Desperate Prayer
I quit thinking and started praying, too.
Please hear my son, Lord.
Answer his prayer.
Please hear my son, Lord,
A loud crack sounded in my ears, and the stands erupted with applause. Fans from both teams were on their feet. The players were jumping and cheering, but I was glued to my seat in a weird mixture of shock, gratitude, awe, and relief. As he rounded second base, my son was pointing at the sky and thanking Jesus for answering his prayer.
I believe almost every person in the bleachers that night was praying right alongside my sweet boy. Maybe someone who hadn’t prayed in a long time sent up a quick prayer on his behalf. Maybe someone who was on the fence about whether or not God existed saw the power of God so sweetly displayed in the middle of a little league baseball field.
You know I was bawling, but so were many others. And when the excitement died down, a gentle peace seemed to settle in around us, like we all knew we’d shared something special.
“I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3:4).
God used a little boy with big faith and a little talent to send a message to everyone watching: “I see you. I hear you. I love you.” And when I’m tempted to believe God doesn’t care about the small things, I picture my son’s joy as he jumped with both feet onto home plate. But only if I remember to remember.
FIGHTING IN FAITH
I know it might seem a little strange to start an article about encouraging our daughters with an anecdote about our son, but hear me out. Our daughter was there. She witnessed the Creator of the universe hear and immediately respond to her brother’s prayer! When we experience God in a personal and powerful way, remembering it can help fortify our faith and sustain us as we press into trouble we’ll face in this world.
In her book “Winning the Worry Battle,” Barb Roose talks about fighting in faith. She calls it a “visual representation of what it looks like to face hardship, difficulty, or uncertainty like a warrior instead of fighting in fear like a worrier.”
Like a Warrior
I want to fight in faith like a warrior.
In the same way, I want that for myself, and I want it for my daughter.
If there ever was a moment when our girls needed to be encouraged and equipped with the truth, it’s now. It’s today. So how can we help? If we want them to fight like warriors, we should teach them to identify the enemy, gather their weapons, and remember the words of their Commander.
IDENTIFY THE ENEMY
In a season filled with instability and uncertainty, the enemy is having a heyday. He relishes chaos and confusion, but he knows his time is limited. But the truth is, he knows he’s going to lose, and he knows he cannot snatch us from God’s hand.
The devil isn’t omniscient, but he studies his prey. He waits and watches. Satan listens and learns. He aims his attacks at the tenderest part of our girls’ hearts; he shoots for wounds that aren’t quite healed.
The devil weaponizes doubt, distractions, and discouragement. In his attempts to render us ineffective for Christ, and to keep us from stepping into our calling, he whispers lies he hopes will poison our thinking, attack our identity in Christ, and derail our efforts to grow. Yes, sometimes he outwits us, but he can never overpower us.
Talking about the devil with our daughters isn’t something we approach much, but it’s important. He knows who our girls are, and we can’t expect them to effectively fight an enemy they don’t understand. And they shouldn’t be scared by this knowledge for Scripture tells us He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). And in Romans 8, Paul tells us we’re more than conquerors. That’s more than amazing; it’s empowering!
ASK FOR HELP
If we’re going to fight in faith for ourselves and our daughters, we need to ask God for His help. We need the wisdom He freely gives to those who ask. We’re not going to naively pretend everything is okay, or let pride step in and tell us we have all the answers. I know I sure don’t. And let’s be honest, not all of us grew up in homes with adults who led us gently down the path of spiritual growth.
We’re all in different places in our faith walk, and that’s okay. Whether you have years of Bible study and discipleship under your belt, or you’re just starting out in your journey with Jesus, you can confidently point your daughter toward the goodness and graciousness of God. He’s faithful to give us what we need.
It’s a blessing to know spiritual growth is a process that will never be finished until we see Jesus face-to-face. We don’t have to worry about arriving late to the party. We’re each running our own race, and even though it’s not our job to change our daughters’ hearts, we can ask God to help us plant good seeds that He will cultivate and grow.
TRUST THE PROCESS
Growth is a process. Healing is a process. And anytime a process is involved in accomplishing a task, there’s usually a step or two we don’t particularly enjoy. If you’ve ever walked a teenager through a parent-taught driver’s course, you know what I’m talking about. (We’re getting ready to go through it again with our youngest, so add me to your prayer list, y’all.)
As we worked through the checklist with our oldest kids, weaknesses emerged. Even if we saved the skills they struggled with for last, eventually we knew we’d need to address them. If we didn’t, they’d fail the test, walk out without a license, and miss out on the freedom that comes with a set of keys. So what did we do? We made them practice. Did they like it? Nope.
Leaning on Him
God knows what we need to experience and address before we’re ready to accomplish the things He prepared for us to do in the future. As our girls learn how to be in the world, but not of it, sometimes they’ll need the kind of training that only takes place in the arena of adversity. Are they going to like it? Probably not.
As God works to help them become more like Jesus, He uses adversity to chip away at the parts of their character and personality that need to be refined. He made them the way they are on purpose, and He’s not trying to turn them into someone else. He’s using the challenges they face to reveal their strengths and weaknesses, and refocus them in the appropriate direction.
As we mature, the fruits of the Spirit should become more evident in our lives, and enable our lights to shine more brightly for His glory. And since there isn’t a time limit for the refinement process, we shouldn’t be surprised when we find ourselves in a situation where God chooses to grow us as well.
It Takes Practice
Recently, God has been giving me opportunities to practice asking for and receiving help. Do any of you struggle in this area? It’s not fun. I don’t like it, but I realize that if I’m going to work towards reaching my potential, I’m going to need to get better at it.
Sometimes it feels like God’s looking in my heart, saying: “Heather, there’s some pride in here, you know? And did you notice this tiny root of bitterness over here? Let’s get rid of that, shall we?” He’s patient and kind, and even though I’m still working through this area, I’m confident the surrender will be worth it.
Somewhere along the way, we’re all going to wrestle with adversity. It’s part of the process of spiritual growth. Even when it’s hard, we can trust it’s beneficial and won’t last a moment longer than necessary.
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34, NIV). That verse reminded me to pay closer attention to what I’m saying, and to what I’m hearing from my daughter. Am I speaking like a warrior or a worrier? If the words we speak reveal the condition of our hearts, I want to speak words that convey what I know to be true about the character of God.
Whenever worry or feelings of defeat begin to seep into our spirit, we can use our words as weapons to push back against the negativity that so easily slides into our minds through our circumstances, our struggles, and the content we consume.
We can acknowledge the difficulty of a situation in one breath, and claim a promise that will sustain us in the next. I think that’s part of what fighting in faith looks like in action.
REMEMBER TO REMEMBER
A final way we can teach our daughters to fight like warriors is to be intentional about remembering all that God has done. So, those moments when God’s love left you breathless—write them down. Start a journal. Keep a log on your phone. Create a document on your laptop. Find a method that works well for you, and encourage your daughters to do the same. Then reflect on His goodness, rest in His love—together. And when you’re finished, don’t keep it to yourself! Tell your stories. Share them to encourage others. Oh, how I’d love to read your words!
When you’re hard pressed, or when your spirit is weary, go back and read them again. It’s good to remember the great things he has done. Although it may seem a little dark right now, He’s always working.
Sweet friends, we’ve traveled some difficult paths in this season, haven’t we? I found this verse David penned to be especially comforting and relevant:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13, NIV).
We have this hope to hold onto—and so do our daughters. So, when the enemy comes knocking, don’t hide. Counter his lies with the Truth; that’s what Jesus did, and that’s what our daughters need to see us doing. They’ll learn how to fight in faith like a warrior by watching us. And while we wait in hopeful expectation, let’s show them how to remember the ways in which we’ve already seen Him move.
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