After dinner one evening, I asked my two-year-old, Billy, and my (almost) four-year-old, Bingham, what they wanted to do. We played some hide-and-seek (their idea), did a ten-minute tidy (my idea) and then decided together to “work out.” I suggested yoga, but my boys were not thrilled with that option. Instead, we headed to the basement to the treadmill. On its very lowest setting, my big littles started running (and giggling) while I walked behind them. The youngest stumbled a couple of times, but I caught him and pulled him up to continue his routine.
Later, while trying to teach Bingham and Billy how to do sit-ups, I realized that I was inviting a wrestling match. As the oldest leapt over me, so did his brother. “You guys are so strong! You amaze me. But guess what!?” I said, as I caught them and tickled them.
Months ago, I overheard a mother complaining that her son wanted to play with her. “He’s too rough, I just told him to stop it. That’s their dad’s job… moms don’t wrestle.” Well maybe that mom doesn’t wrestle, but this mama is more than a little fond of it. I enjoy rough play matches, and I love encouraging them to be who God created them to be.
Before our kids were born, my husband and I decided to frame our roles in parenting as battle trainers. We knew, even if we didn’t fully understand, that these babies growing in my womb would not be ours to control any more than we could determine what would happen in the situations around them. The world is full of evil, disaster, and destruction. Even if we couldn’t protect our kids from the world, we vowed to do our best to prepare them and point them to the One who would give them the strength to fight for themselves and for others.
Nearly 28 years ago, a couple of parents that I know and highly respect, prayed for their first child in a similar way. “God, above anything else, let our son bring glory to You.” After he was born, it became evident that his heart had a defect. Through countless doctor appointments and several procedures, this family of three continued to trust in God’s plan. These parents continued to pray that their son’s life would glorify God, and those around them witnessed the goodness of God through the faith of his people. That boy was named Eric and his parents are Scott and Cheryl Lindberg. When Eric was in elementary school, he chose to follow Jesus. He had many interests and was talented at many things, but when he was in 7th grade, he received what he believed to be a calling to be a youth pastor. He saw hopeless people who needed to be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and knew that was the direction he wanted to go. Eric knew that, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Like a warrior, he pressed on to continue fighting for eternities. Through the words the Holy Spirit gave him, many students came to a saving understanding of God’s goodness. Even when Eric died, the battle was not over. God brought more people into His kingdom through Eric’s testimony and at his funeral. God answered Scott and Cheryl’s prayer when Eric brought glory to God. I’m raising Eric’s sons in the legacy of their warrior father.
Although I never envisioned parenting my boys without their dad, it is still my mission as their mother to raise bold and compassionate communicators who love Jesus, desire to share His Gospel with passion and defend His name. I am raising warriors for God’s kingdom.
So wait, why does wrestling prepare them to be spiritual warriors? Here’s my thought process: Every time I wrestle with Bingham and Billy, we share laughter and some rambunctious love. This time we have together is fun, and it seems to build their confidence. When they are assured of my delight in them, they hear Jesus’ love that much more clearly. When one of us gets hurt, we have the opportunity to learn compassion, apologize and forgive.
Wrestling is certainly not the only method I’m choosing to teach my kids. Not only this, but as they get older and stronger, we may have to employ some different ways to play and learn. For now, though, it’s one of my favorite family pastimes. I love being a B&B warrior Mommy.
*Disclaimer for the worriers in my life: my boys like to be rough, but I actually watch them very carefully to see that no one hits anything hard enough to cause damage. I love that you are the way that you are. I love that we are the way that we are.