Several weeks ago, while scrolling through Facebook, I came across a picture of a toddler/young school age child who had clearly just thrown a temper tantrum, or had an icy stand-off, and the mother captioned the picture, "Well... you have to choose your battles."
And something inside of me snapped.
Honestly, I don't remember who this mother was. I don't remember who this child was. All I remember is that I am sick and tired of the "choose your battles" line.
It's complete crap.
Now you, as a mother, as a human, you have a finite energy pool. That's why this lie makes sense. It rises up and bites you when your child throws their 37th temper tantrum of the day, and you know you could make it all go away for an hour if you just gave them a bowl of ice cream and a Netflix stream of "Daniel Tiger." And you think, "eh, pick your battles..."
Don't buy the lie.
Parenting is war. And anyone who tells you different is selling something. (Yes, I just paraphrased "The Princess Bride." All of my cultural references are super-old. Because I'm a mom. And I just don't get out much.) But parenting is war.
The temptation is to avoid the massive battles. To just fight when you have energy. To shy away from the possibility of a three-hour show-down. To say, "Well, this "personlity exhibition" isn't inconveniencing me now..."
But then we completely lose it about stupid stuff: family pictures, how everyone looks on Sunday, nap time being interrupted, childish public behavior (not disobedience, just childish behavior from children), and messes.
Today, Grant pushed a chair over the counter, popped open a Tupperware storage container full of brown sugar, and began glibly shoveling it into his mouth. It made a mess. And he, and everything around him, was sticky. I'm fairly confident I'll be finding brown sugar in the crevices of my kitchen for days to come.
This was not a battle to fight. I told him to stop. He did. He helped me clean up the mess while we talked about how yummy sugar is, but how our bodies can't be healthy and strong if we eat too much of it.
I did not blow a gasket. He did not disobey. We did some teaching and we moved on.
But more often than not, I see mothers (yes, I'm in this category, too!) where little things that aren't sin are elevated above obedient, joyful behavior. I see mothers caving because they're tired, because it's the same battle day after day, because it's exhausting, and thankless, and wearing... and sometimes it's just so much easier to shrug and say, "well, you've got to choose your battles."
Here's the deal, someone is choosing battles. And he's fighting for the next generation. Wake up, Christian mamas! The war for the future of the gospel is real, and intense, and daily... and SMALL. There are very few truly massive battles you will fight in your child's first 10-13 years of life. Instead, it's like a small steady water drip... And drip after exhausting drip, you have to fight the battles.
You have to fight for obedience, joy, self-control, patience, and love. You have to fight to instill these in your children. You have to fight to plant the gospel, to plant faithfulness, to plant the beauty of the truth. There is a war, and we're missing it because it's so small. It's being fought on the daily hills you die on with your child.
Do you die on the hills of mess, inconvenience, and time drains?
Or do you die on the hills of obedience, joy, and kindness?
Because "choosing your battles" is much trickier than we realize. And too often, we choose the wrong ones...