Powerlessness in Parenting

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by Diana Shaw

One of my worst fears was unfolding. This did not fit into my parenting dreams or plans. It didn’t follow the formula of: if I do A + B it will give me a child who falls in line and loves Jesus. No! The opposite of every prayer I had prayed was taking place. I had a teenager who was now a runaway.

At the time, I was visiting my sister’s home. She has always been a huge source of strength, but she couldn’t help me. I had just prayed and talked with Kevin over the phone, and he’s always been a rock and able to provide comfort … but I was still a mess. Eventually realizing no one could console me and I couldn’t help myself (duh), I began to pray what I’ve since prayed many times over the course of parenting. “Father, I am powerless here! I am powerless over this situation. I can’t change this situation. I can’t control the outcome. I can’t turn this child’s heart. I am powerless over their heart. I am powerless over their choices. I can’t see where this is going. I can’t fix this. I can’t protect. I am completely out of control. I am powerless over having peace. I can’t stop this wash of anxious thoughts. Kevin can’t give me peace. Kathy can’t give me peace. I am powerless but You are not. Only You can turn and change this situation. And only You can speak life to me right now. “

I was like the Israelites with the Red Sea in front of me and the Egyptians behind; struggling to believe God, needing to hear:

“The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still.“ Exodus 14:10-14

I grabbed my Bible and journal and I asked Him what He wanted me to know. Over the course of the next hour or so, his Holy Spirit began to speak back to me the words that He had put into my heart, soul, and mind from years of spending time with Him in his Word. He spoke words of truth about Himself: his nearness; his being good, powerful, and in control; his being the creator of this child’s heart and knowing just what they needed. He reminded me of his care, his provision, his sovereignty, his ability to redeem, his love for me, and his love for this child. Truth after truth He spoke. As I listened, He changed me. Peace that no man could provide for me flooded every part of my being. I laid my head down and slept. I slept like a baby!

Although this happened years ago (and this child is seeking Jesus today) this prayer of powerlessness is cried out for all of my children, many times; for every imaginable reason:

  • “Father, I am powerless to protect them.”
  • “I am powerless to give them a godly spouse.”
  • “I am powerless to resolve this conflict they are experiencing with_______.”
  • “I am powerless to convict them of the way their culture is subtly influencing them.”
  • “I am powerless to help them see this lie they are believing.”
  • “I am powerless to reject this lie for them and have them walk in your truth.”
  • “I am powerless to keep them seeking and hungering after you.”
  • “I am powerless over this pain and suffering they are going through.”
  • “I am powerless over …”
  • The list is infinite.

Kevin and I have spent years praying for our children. We have invested in giving them truth, love, discipline, grace, guidance, mercy, counsel, and forgiveness. We did many things right and we failed a lot in the process. Perhaps one of the best things we have learned (and are still learning) is that ultimately we are powerless, but He is not. We can entrust our children to Him. He is enough.

Dig deep into his Word. Learn who He is and what is True. Speak this to yourself. Give this to your children. Do your part in parenting that He calls you to in his Word. In the end, rest in the assurance that The Better One is in charge and He is powerful, sovereign, wise, loving, and good. He will fight for you. He will fight for the ones you love. Pray and be still.

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