The women’s intercessory prayer team at my church was hosting a denomination-wide prayer conference. During this conference, they opened the floor for prayer requests. One woman who shared, named Laura*, was a very new member to our church. Laura wanted prayer for her relationship with her teenaged daughter. She said to the entire room of about a hundred or so women, “When my daughter became a teenager, we began having problems. I didn’t know what to do with her, so I beat her. She got taken away from me and I still don’t have her back.”
As the years slowly crept by, I began to learn more about Laura and other members of her family. Laura was a pediatric nurse. She and I were in the same Sunday school class for adult women, so I came to know Laura as an amazing, loving, God fearing woman, full of worship, and full of joy.
Some time after that conference, our pastor preached on Matthew 15:21-28, about the faith of the Canaanite woman who cried out after Jesus, on behalf of her “demon-possessed, suffering” daughter. Our pastor wanted us to see and to feel how strong this woman’s desperation was for her daughter’s healing. He encouraged those in the congregation, who had daughters and who could relate to this Canaanite woman, to say aloud, “My daughter!” Even in a congregation of about a thousand people, I could clearly identify Laura’s unique voice as she unashamedly cried out, from the back of the church, “My daughter! My daughter!”
Laura eventually regained custody of her daughter and even shared with our Sunday school class areas in which she had seen growth in herself as a parent, but also saw areas in which she was still lacking, and still sought our prayers.
This story is not for us to judge Laura or Laura’s behavior, but I have asked this question before, “…when is spanking discipline and when is spanking abuse?” Apparently, the Department of Human Services considered Laura’s form of discipline to be abuse. Therefore, my question is, do our churches do anything to help train parents? Sure, Laura loved the Lord, had a compassionate career in the medical field, and was a caring and involved sister and aunt. Sure, there will always be areas in which we will struggle. However, should not our Christian faith be holistic, so that there is not such an imbalance between who we are as Christians in our church communities, and who we are as parents? In our very broken world, training up a child is not an easy task. How could our church communities be more helpful to parents?