4 Steps to Parenting from a Healthy Place (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Psalm 139:23
Do you ever wonder what God was thinking when He made you a parent when you don’t have it all together? I did when I became a mom at twenty-three. I was still battling the emotional fallout of an eating disorder I had since I was fourteen. Though I was recovering, the insides of me were fragmented, tender, and far from healthy.
Our hurts, insecurities, fears, and past relationships come with us into parenting. They don’t magically go away with the birth of your first or even your last child. We bring all of ourselves into our job as a parent. We also bring coping skills, behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs, both healthy and unhealthy. That’s why spiritual and emotional wholeness is essential, both for you and your kids.
What does it mean to be whole?
Wholeness means we don’t have gaping wounds in our mental and emotional make-up. We don’t look to our children, spouse, or others to meet our needs. We face our hurts, seeking to grow and change where needed. We pursue our relationship with Jesus Christ so he can heal us and make us whole in His grace, love, and presence. We also seek professional or spiritual assistance through counseling, mentorship, or spiritual direction when we can’t make changes or grow on our own.
While we parents can’t blame ourselves for the choices our kids make, our kids don’t have a choice about how our unhealthy behaviors affect their lives. As a school counselor, most issues affecting my students at the elementary level are the direct or indirect result of their parents’ choices, behaviors, or mental and emotional health. Kids don’t have control over how these factors influence their lives.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to our families to be as healthy and whole as we can be. We have the resource of the Holy Spirit to equip us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I failed to recognize this assistance as a young mom. Reactionary and emotional outbursts leftover from my eating disorder affected my kids. I had to recognize and change the problem.
The same is true for you. Whatever areas of your life are unbalanced, consider the following steps to bring all of your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical beings into wholeness.
The first step is giving up control over unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, or beliefs. Allow God to take care of your past, your pain, insecurities, and unhealthy ways to cope. Pursue Him. Seek counseling or accountability in the areas that need to change. As you allow God heal these things, wholeness will balance out the unevenness in your life.
The second step is letting Jesus fill the gaps in your life. Spend time with God. Seek Him through prayer. Read the Bible, applying His word to your life. Let Him balance out your weaknesses with His strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says God will be strong in your areas of weakness. When you do these things, you’ll experience peace of mind and heart that only Christ can fill. Philippians 4:6-7 says when you bring all things to God, His peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
The third step is obedience to God. Obey God in the areas of which He is asking you to change. His directives come from Scripture, prayer, godly counsel, and time with Him. Don’t minimize something you if conviction is telling you to confess it and change it. I John 1:9 says when you confess your sin, God is faithful and just to forgive you of your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. I had to gain control of my reactionary responses as an act of obedience. What do you need to confess and change to bring wholeness in your life?
The last step is to invest in your family. Being healthy and whole isn’t just a personal gig. It directly impacts your family and the development of your children. Children read your life, not your words. You don’t have to be perfect. But being the healthiest version of yourself is the best investment you can give your family.
Pray this with me today:
Father, help me to know what wholeness looks like to you and my family. Fill the gaps in my life. Show me what it means to obey you and to trust you in ways I can’t trust people. Be the head and healer of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.