People say that they would do anything for their kids, but I didn’t really understand this sentiment on a visceral level until I punched a wall when my baby was about a week old.
Let’s be clear, I am not the type of girl that punches walls.
In fact, I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the times I have wanted to punch a wall during my lifetime. Scream? Sure. Cry? Definitely. But punch a wall? It honestly just doesn’t cross my mind.
That is, until my baby was a week old or so, and he would not stop crying. My husband came in so I could tap out, but the problem was that I didn’t want to tap out. An unforgiving version of pride fueled by sleep deprivation made me just want to keep trying to soothe him. Because I was his mom, after all. I should be able to calm him down.
Looking back, of course, I realize the silliness of this. Sometimes you just need a break, and sometimes baby just needs something else. It’s okay. But in that moment, it wasn’t anywhere near okay.
Furious that my husband essentially took my baby from me (how I saw it at the time, even though my more rational mind knew he was doing a good thing), and enraged that I couldn’t meet my baby’s need in that moment, I stormed into the closet in my bedroom and punched the wall.
Now I obviously didn’t like, superhero punch it. But for me this was a big deal. And like a glass of water splashed on my face, it gave me pause. Wild-eyed postpartum Kimber took the proverbial chill pill, and I slowly calmed down. And in that moment, I knew what people meant when they say they’d do anything for their kids, and the utter rage that can come when it feels like we can’t do anything at all.
I am happy to report that I haven’t punched any walls since, and really, I hope to not do so ever again. It hurt! Rather than just blaming this moment on a crazy postpartum mood swing, though, I want to remember it for the lesson I saw in it: I really don’t like feeling helpless.
There’s nothing like motherhood to make you feel helpless, but it’s certainly not the only thing to bring up this fun emotion. Facing down a terminal diagnosis, unexplained infertility, deployment to a dangerous place, a miscarriage you know is happening, a job lost, or a family member or friend making really bad choices, to name a few, can leave us feeling lost in our own inability to manage the things we love in this life. In those moments comes the choice: to punch a wall (literally or metaphorically) or to go to my knees in prayer.
My gut reaction to things feeling out of control in my life is to try to hold on tighter, to try to fix and handle and manage. But letting go of what is out of control and giving it to someone who can handle it is the best thing I can do. When my baby was crying, the best thing I could do in that moment was hand him off to someone who could handle it, and the same is true of all our moments of helplessness in this life.
Sometimes Christians catch flack for saying the best thing we can do for someone is pray. For some people that might be because they don’t want to go to the trouble or sacrifice of meeting a physical need, but for the genuine Christian heart, we say that because we believe it’s true. This doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t also meet physical needs; the church is definitely called to do that too. But when we pray, we do it because we believe it matters.
In our helpless moments, when we hand off our burdens to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, we do so believing he is ready and able and willing to meet our needs.
Isaiah 49:25 says, “I will contend with those who contend with you.” We don’t have to punch walls with futility. We have a God who is ready to go to bat for us against the forces in this world against which we feel helpless.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I wasn’t doing battle against my baby that day, or my husband, or anything physical. The enemy was using my pride matched up against a crying baby to convince me that I could conquer my feelings of helplessness on my own, and when I inevitably failed to do that, he was ready to remind me that it was because I was a failure.
But I have as my Father a God who contends with those who contend with me. I’m thankful for the rescue he sent to me in that place. He sent my husband to help me, he sent friends to encourage me, and he sent the Holy Spirit to teach me in that moment.
This month we have been discussing the mother-heart of God and what that can look like for us as his daughters. When I read this verse in Isaiah, I think of a mother bear, protecting her cubs from a threat. I think of a big sister telling the bully, “If you mess with her, you’re going to have to go through me first.” And I think of my sisters, on their knees in prayer, contending for their sisters caught in their own moments of helplessness against the powers of this dark world. We could punch walls with futility because we’re so frustrated at God for letting us or our sisters experience circumstances that feel helpless and hopeless, or we could join the fight against evil. We can contend.
Hosea 13:8 describes God’s anger this way: “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open.” And while that imagery feels a bit extra to me at the moment, to the Kimber who punched the wall, it actually feels about right. And when I see my sisters hurting because we live in a fallen world, I’m really thankful I belong to a God who likens himself to a mother bear.
See, I think that sometimes we forget that the Lord is “a mighty warrior who saves” (Zeph. 3:17). To be sure, He flips tables when He sees evil ruling (John 2:15). So when we go to our mother-bear, warrior God in prayer, contending for our sisters against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, we can do so with confidence in Him, remembering that the One we’re praying to has the fierce heart of a mother. Anyone who messes with his girls has to go through Him first. He will not stand idly by.
But that’s where the doubt creeps in, isn’t it? How can we continue to contend on behalf of our sisters or ourselves when it feels like God isn’t coming to our rescue, like he is standing idle? As I talked about earlier this month, that wait is so hard.
The book of Daniel gives an encouraging insight into why we continue to contend, even when the wait feels long. In Daniel 10, Daniel prays for understanding for three weeks, but hears nothing from the Lord. Finally, he has a vision in which he is told he has been heard, and that, for the last 21 days, battle was being done on his behalf in the heavenly realms to answer his request. I’ve heard Annie F. Downs describe it this way: “God is already making arrangements to answer your request.” Sisters, don’t give up now. We can be sure that we are heard and that He is moving on behalf of his daughters.
And so we contend for our sisters. We fight like a mother, not with our fists like the rest of the world, but by going to the One with a mother-heart, the One who says he will contend with those who contend with his kids. For our sisters who are waiting for healing, for changed circumstances, for a breakthrough, let us contend alongside them with faith, endurance, and hope. Let us fight like a mother, not by punching walls, but by going to our knees in prayer.
Love ya, friend.
Your Sister, Kimber
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