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August 29, 2016

Push Back the Darkness

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This week, you and I have the privilege of hearing again from Margaret Austin.  She shared a post with us in June entitled Motherhood as Ministry.  If you missed it, make sure to click here to check it out.  Today, she shares with us again from the trenches of motherhood, so if you are in a tough spot and need some encouragement, pull up a chair, and enjoy Margaret’s wisdom, wit, insight, and bold love.  Just to give you a recap on who Margaret is and how we know each other, I met Margaret five years ago when she had just moved to Houston and was pregnant with her firstborn.  Her husband, Thomas, played for the Houston Texans, but Houston was only blessed enough to have Margaret and Thomas here for a year before they moved again.  In the past five years, they have moved ten times because of Thomas’ career in the NFL, and Margaret birthed three babies in that time period – Adam (4 years old),  Isaiah (2 years old), and Hazel (4 months old).  After watching and admiring Margaret, I’m pretty sure NFL wives are just as tough as their husbands!  In the past year and a half, Thomas has transitioned from playing football in the NFL to coaching football at Clemson in South Carolina.  Yet through all of the moving, transition, babies, and change, Margaret has remained…Margaret.  She is beautiful, bold, never afraid to tell you like it really is, but never afraid, either, to obey the Lord and walk in obedience that path He has for her (even when it hurts).  Over the past five years, Margaret has made God more real and beautiful to me, and I know she will do the same for you as she shares encouragement straight from her heart and straight from the trenches of toddlerhood. 

Hi friends!

Margaret Austin here again, writing to you from the youngest years of motherhood. It has taken me over 2 weeks to complete this post because every time I sit down, someone needs a snack, wakes from a nap, needs to nurse, cracks their tooth on their stick horse, or jumps from the coffee table onto the couch for the 1000th time. So when I say I understand how the little years are, I promise you, I understand.

I’m writing today to share with you a phrase that I’ve been mulling over for about a month now. During our family trip to the beach, we visited an Anglican church where we recited a prayer that included the phrase “Lord, help us to push back the darkness.” I quickly wrote the phrase down because it struck me as such a powerful thing to pray for ourselves and our children. There seems to be so much darkness all around us every day in the news, and much of it is darkness that we can do nothing about except pray over. As I’ve been thinking over the phrase this past month, I have tried to think of ways that I can practically model “pushing back the darkness” for my children. (If your children aren’t repeating phrases you say or copying your mannerisms yet – just you wait. It is one of the main ways God is sanctifying me by showing me my own sin in the way my children copy the things I do and say!)
One of the ways I’ve specifically been praying that my children would learn to push back the darkness is by how they treat people who are not like them. Whether it is someone who has a disability, a different skin color, or is from a different socio-economic class, I want my children to learn to move towards these people, not away from them in fear of their differences. When we lived in New England, I worked with children on the Autism spectrum. We would take trips into the community to teach them life skills, and one thing that bothered me the most about these trips is the way people would either 1. stare and openly gawk or 2. hurry by with their heads down and never acknowledge my students. I hope that I can model for my children ways that we can move towards other human beings who may not look like us and treat them with warmth and dignity. I want my children to see me look people in the eye, ask their name, and move towards others. Oftentimes the way I see the darkness rear its ugly head is when people are fearful – they fear those with disabilities, anyone who doesn’t look or act or dress like them, and they move away in fear. But I think that Scripture speaks towards social justice issues repeatedly for a reason – we are called to push back the darkness by pushing towards those in need and in positions where they can be left unnoticed. I ask my children to look the cashier and bag boy in the eye and tell them “thank you,” which in turn convicts me to do the same!
The other way I am attempting to teach our children to push back the darkness is by being respectful towards other and owning up to their wrongs. I don’t just mean saying “yes ma’am” or a half-hearted “I’m sorry.” I especially want to teach my boys that they are to respect other’s bodies. This means we don’t kick, hit, punch, etc. Now, our family lives in a world of football and wrestling and going on bear hunts, so we are attempting to differentiate the difference in mean play versus when it is OK to play rough. (Any tips are welcome!) This has spurred me to pray that the Lord will open my eyes to my own sin first, and then to my children’s sin so that I can help them push back the darkness in their own hearts by owning up to their sin and asking others for forgiveness. Right now, my children are 4 years, 2 years, and 4 months old, so we learn these things in age appropriate ways. I have to remind myself that teaching in these small moments and in ways will hopefully add up over time, along with the conviction of the Holy Spirit that will come from the inside out.
Our pastor preached last week on what it means to “crush Satan’s head” (Romans 16:20) in our daily lives, and I felt like he directly spoke to this issue of “pushing back the darkness.” He said that we can crush Satan every day by living out the Gospel in our homes, workplaces, and schools. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), and we respond to Satan by speaking the Hope of Christ to ourselves, our children, and those we come in contact with, we can push back the darkness and crush the head of Satan.
What ways can you help others in your life push back the darkness?