Discipleship & the Coronavirus: Lessons from a Parent
This is part of our series, Discipleship & the Coronavirus, featuring posts written by GABC members on what God is teaching them during the coronavirus pandemic.
You may read the entire series here.
by Emily Jensen
What am I learning as a parent of young children during a pandemic?
As a mom of young children, I’ve spent years creating stability for our family. Routines and procedures aren’t meant to be legalistic—consistency with rules, church activities, bedtimes, school schedules, recreational outings, and mealtimes help us manage expectations and responses. But the day COVID-19 became a pandemic, the scaffolding of those routines was torn down, and my attitude along with it.
Our children thought these changes were novel and even fun. We get to do school at home? Cool! We can build block towers on our living room floor while we listen to a sermon? Awesome!
But I felt like the groundwork of daily life was struck by an earthquake. No more school? How am I going to teach everyone? We can’t gather with the church body? My family or friends might get sick and die? I’m anxious.
My immediate loss of control tossed me into every type of response. I bought an overflowing cart of groceries, baked and ate too many cookies, spoke loud and harsh words, created an hour-by-hour quarantine schedule, stopped answering emails and then stayed up late to answer emails, showered and put on makeup one day and sat my kids in front of multiple movies so I could sulk around the next. Nothing put my heart back on solid ground.
Learning from Peter
Then one morning as we had a family devotion, I found myself relating to Peter in Matthew 14:
So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (v. 29-30)
As soon as Peter took his eyes off Christ and focused on the instability around him, he began to sink. But Peter also knew the one who the wind and waves obeyed. He knew the cornerstone, the firm foundation, and the future hope of all believers. Peter cried out to his Savior and Jesus immediately reached out to grab him.
Perhaps some of Peter’s experiences later led to his wording at the end of his second letter as he talked about the last days (emphasis mine),
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
Peter didn’t want others to lose their stability, being tossed around by false teaching or circumstances as the world changed around them. Instead, he wanted believers to look to Christ—the one who saves and stabilizes. Similarly, it’s our knowledge of grace that helps us stand firm, even when the floodwaters rise and the ground quakes.
The Source of Stability
I’m learning that the stability I need to parent young children during the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t come from my routines or responses—it comes from Christ. I might have happy days and hard days. “Normal” life might continue to look stranger and stranger. The news might be grim and the restrictions prolonged. But I must continue loving my family as I always have—not primarily through created structures or my own comfortable feelings, but by looking to Christ and helping those around me do the same.