When my husband and I had children, we vowed not to give into the digital age, even before we became Christians. We watched parents sit with their children at restaurants with tablets neatly propped in front of their faces, and said we’d never be one of those people. It was quite painful really. We had three children within a two-year period and vowed not to give into the world. It was God’s perfect volley for accepting Jesus into our lives.
For those of us raising children in Christian households, it has become increasingly more difficult to fight the world and all of its snares. There are idols everywhere, all vying for our children’s attention. The thought of moving out into the country had crossed my mind a million times, and mind you, I am a city girl and have no idea what or where the country really is.
I’m not talking about keeping my kids sheltered or under lock and key, I’m talking about setting a firm foundation in Christ, which involves teaching them that we are different from the world. My husband and I have chosen to do a lot of things differently like no secular radio (because we never know what kind of content is going to be on there) and no electronics at family meals. We’ve taught them that words like “stupid” and “dumb” or “shut up” are bad words and inappropriate to use. We’ve taught them to love despite being mocked. We’ve taught them to pray for the kids that they hate the most. At times I know it is very confusing to them. They feel left out, different from the rest of the world. But I tell them, they ARE different. They are followers of Jesus Christ…
As they get older, it has become increasingly more difficult. My household has become a war zone for them to air their grievances against each other. They are all trying to find their own way, find their voice in a large family. I know it’s hard. I have no experience in this realm as I came from a family of only one other sibling. My rules for them have become increasingly difficult. They are exposed to so much that we don’t agree with when they are outside of our home. I feel at times like I am Christ’s soldier in battle, it is me against the world.
So I was all ready to give in this morning after a two-day battle that the mutiny raised. They were tired of reading and playing with their toys. They wanted to play on their computers. It was a standoff. I ran to my bed and screamed, You win, You win! I just couldn’t take it anymore. I prayed and asked our Lady, Undoer of Knots to help me.
Holy Mother, Mother of God, and our Mother to you who untie with motherly heart the knots of our life, we pray to you to receive in your hands our knots, and to free our family of the knots and confusion with which our enemy attacks. (excerpt from Pope Francis’ Prayer to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots).
I could see her rushing to Jesus with a long rope full of all of the knots that belonged to our family. Like a gentle Mother, she was undoing them. I could see the concerned look on her face and hear her gentle voice. She knew this was an emergency, I was overwhelmed and ready to give in. I saw her come to her son Jesus. And Jesus saw that it was an emergency too.
Things started lifting, I could breathe again. I could feel the undoing of the knots. I could hear the encouragement of our Lord and Our Lady, Don’t give up! Do not give into this world’s temptations. Do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you must pull down their altars.
And so I listened. The enemy came barreling at me this morning. I went back to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. I was scared. It was starting again. But I wouldn’t give in. I could not make a covenant with this world, I had to pull down the altars. I had to continue doing what Christ had commanded.
So I gathered the kids and we talked. I told them that I knew they wanted their computers for a little time in the morning. We made an agreement. If they read five books on the computer each morning, they could have a scheduled amount of free time. They liked that. I liked that. It didn’t compromise the rules we had set in place. It increased their reading time and it gave me some peace. I didn’t give in, I gave up…to God.
I know my road in raising these kids in these times will be difficult. Every day brings its own challenges. But my house is built on Christ, a firm foundation and I have a mother who wants to undo the knots in my life. Amen.