· family

He addressed the men. “How many of you feel like warriors? I mean, you would dive over sofas, wielding swords to protect your families, right?” All the men raised their hands. “I mean, women don’t feel that way, or maybe they do. How many women feel like a warrior?” I shot my fist clenched hand, straight in the air, not realizing mine was the only hand in the air. “Okay! Guess there’s one of you Zena warriors,” he laughed in jest.

I put my hand down and each of my teen boys along with my husband, gave me a fist bump.

Over the past 8 years, I have been more aware of my position, my stance. Raising three teenage boys and one teenage girl, I have drawn the line in the sand more than once, staking my claim, brandishing my sword.

He came home after school. It had been a rough year already and each day seemed to place on him a greater weight than the day before. Listening day after day to the lies surrounding him, he walked through the door with his head down and his shoulders slumped over. His backpack looked like it contained nothing but stones carved from layers of unkind words. He had a teacher who had repeatedly referred to him as a girl. Months this went on before he shared with us. His entire class would correct the teacher, “HE’s a HE.” She’d brush them off only to address him once again as “her”. He is beautiful. Visually stunning and pre-puberty, there was nothing hard with which to chisel out his features. But, still. That teacher knew better. Then there was the big kid who towered over my short son, lording his power, daily, over my little guy. Being too kind to defend himself, he faced the bully day after day until his face no longer knew how to look up, it permanently looked to the floor.

Being an actor, my kid morphed, assuming any role where he’d be accepted. This just caused more confusion as he struggled to be authentic on stage competing with his peers who were the best of the best in our state.

Once, he arrived to a new movement class, only to be invited to sit in a circle around a copper pot filled with cow dung and ghee. It was being burned to purify the air in the (public) school he attended. He was then instructed to repeat a mantra, in a different language, that the teacher chanted. My kid panicked. He had just spent a year abroad as a missionary kid learning the power of the spoken word and knowing that this was not just a “scientific practice”. He ran from the room marking himself, once again, as different.

As he walked through our front door that afternoon, I took my warrior mama sword out, lifting it high above my head and I rested it gently yet firmly on his shoulder. “You were made in the image of God and He has looked at you and said, ‘He is good. He is perfect, just the way he is.’ His plans for you are good and right. He will make a way for you, where there is no way. He will go before you and behind you. You are not alone. He loves you and will take all of this and redeem it. It will not be wasted. It will be made beautiful. You are a wonderful son and will one day be an incredible man and father. You are brave and I love you.”

This was the first time I watched truth, visually break chains and shackles. With each sentence and declaration, it was as if those stones and weights were falling to the floor. He slowly stood taller, straightened out his shoulders, lifted his head up and looked me in the eyes.

It didn’t fix all the things, but it did for a moment show me that I had a weapon more powerful than what he faced day in and day out. I had truth.

I pledged that day in my heart to be a warrior. I committed to fight for my kids, starting with my oldest, daily conditioning myself to be on my knees interceding on their behalf. I determined to wage war against the world they lived in, battling the lies with the truth. In the beginning my muscles tired quickly and were unsure of themselves. But that day in church, with feet firmly planted and grounded, I threw my fist in the air knowing full well I am a warrior, a warrior raising future warriors. And I’ll be damned if I let the enemy gain any ground.

*This post was originally published at Deeper Story.

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