A Personal Testimony
It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to share with you and impart hope and excitement about your sphere of influence with children, whatever that may be. I hope that as you read this you will feel empowered and rearing to go with some tools to resource you along the road!
Marriage and being a mom to two grown up boys has been a journey…..
I always thought getting married and having babies was the ultimate goal and hankered so much after it that I failed to enjoy the seasons. My goal seemed a lot about ticking the boxes and being perfect! I loved my babies but found parenting and marriage to be the biggest catalysts for change ever! There have been many times I have wondered what on earth I was thinking and why didn’t anyone warn me…?
My personal parenting journey has included the stress of medical emergencies; the conversations with school teachers regarding concentration and bullying; post-traumatic stress accompanied with anxiety and depression; strain on our marriage, vulnerable relationships, poor connections, and me feeling fearful, powerless, hopeless, clueless, discouraged and often wanting to run away!
As a teacher, I have taught various ages of children over the last 30 years or so, ranging from high school to littlies. I felt I was a “good” teacher – I could control a classroom of 40 children and I can control a room full of toddlers – 130 to be exact – without a problem. I’ve always said I could have a large family, but my home would be run like an army camp – me being the lieutenant shouting orders – the children feeling like a salute would be appropriate, and as my husband so succinctly once put it “Yes mom”!! (eish!)
About 8 years ago, I embarked on a spiritual journey of discovering honour, sonship and identity. My familiar world as I knew it was turned upside down: new perspective, powerful revelation, and prophetic insight. An unravelling and realigning process began.
I realised I had lost sight of, and possibly hadn’t really understood, the goals of my influence over children’s lives, particularly in my parenting. I was parenting out of pure fear I was being given the privilege of unpacking what this looked like for me and for those around me, especially in my family and in my work.
Engaging with material by Danny Silk, Bill Johnson, Seth Dahl, Jim Fay, Kris Vallotton, Andy and Janine Mason and Steve and Wendy Backlund (to mention a few), I began to realise that fear and love worked in direct opposition to each other and could not co-exist. Out of fear, I was attempting to control everything that could be controlled, in all spheres, and anxious about what I couldn’t. I had even got to the place of needing medication to help me with anxiety and sleep, and I was face-to-face with “I need to sort this out, not only for me – but for my family and for you – because I believe that God works all things out for good and others can benefit from what we go through in our lives. I had to ask that wonderful question, “What needs to change in me?!” (It’s so much easier when things are obviously other people’s fault!).
I found myself at a crossroads of choices – I could stay on this road of fear and control, like an ostrich with my head in the sand pretending nothing is going on, staying safe, controlling and dominating, looking powerful but actually full of fear. Or, I could take the other road and do things differently. I didn’t know what the other road looked like but I did know that I could not stay on the road I was on. I literally cried out to God to help me – I couldn’t do it on my own! And so a journey began. It was a very personal journey, and a lot was happening in me, but it needed to start there. I was reminded by something I heard Katia Adams say – “the future of our influence over children’s lives, whether it is our own or other people’s children will never go past the culture of our hearts. What He is doing in me is the solution… the story needs to be yours first before it can be someone else’s.”
Follow my journey through Part Two in December!
Barbara Cooper – Principal: Little Heroes Preschool