I still remember the pile of books I checked out at the library when I was pregnant with my first child. Three kids later through toddler years, special needs, home education and health challenges, I can’t tell you many how many of those piles I’ve read. And I’m grateful. As a 5 on the Enneagram and a chronic researcher, it’s hard to find someone who believes more in the value of books. Yet as I watch my kids running around the house, I’m amazed at how many times I’ve leaned on those books so much so that I almost missed the most important thing right under my nose: friendship with the Holy Spirit.

When I was younger, I often wished that I could have been like the disciples and walked with Jesus arm in arm. What I would do to watch His shoulders shake with hysterical laughter or fold into His arms like John when I needed comfort.

The disciples didn’t want Jesus to leave either, but Jesus assured them, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

This was Jesus’ plan all along. We are made alive in Christ and become dwelling places of the Holy Spirit, but what does that have to do with parenthood?

Everything.

Friendship with the Holy Spirit is the ultimate gamechanger for us as parents. God is completely invested in our journey. While books and resources can equip us from the outside, the Spirit empowers us from the inside.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” see Ephesians 3:20

As much as I LOVE books, here are 5 ways friendship with the Holy Spirit trumps all the ideas, information, advice and even wisdom parenting books could ever give us:

The Holy Spirit reminds us of what is ours in Christ.

What’s ours in Christ is for us to explore through the Word of God, but the Spirit quickens those truths within us in real time.  He reminds us that because Christ is our righteousness, we’re free from striving and proving our worth. He reminds us that Jesus in our Prince of Peace. He helps us remember that God’s grace is sufficient for anything and everything we face, and that God’s wisdom is lavishly ours to receive. Like when our kids are bickering, when we face a hard decision or when we’ve just screamed at our kids despite our best intentions.

Through the Holy Spirit’s good work in us, we learn how to walk in alignment with the abundant life He offers and alerted when we’ve veered off course. The good news is Holy Spirit is really good at course corrections. He’s the ultimate GPS always leading us back to the heart of God.

The Holy Spirit gives us discernment.

Whether we are reading a secular or Christian book, we are bound to read something that does not sit well with our spirit and our knowledge of God’s Word. When we’ve taken the time to learn God’s Word, it’s like installing a supercharged filter powered by the Holy Spirit that aids us in separating truth from falsehood. I love that I can read books about parenting, child development and education and receive the benefit of stories, knowledge and wisdom while discarding advice or dogma that does not fit within Biblical framework. The principles of God’s kingdom are a sure compass that help us navigate the culture around us without losing our way.

Discernment also helps us sort through what is a good idea and what is actually beneficial and actionable for our family right now. Not all advice will serve our core values or priorities. In order to live sustainable lives, what we implement through our learning needs to honor our unique family, our capacity (time, energy, and finances) and our mission. The Holy Spirit can make the difference between walking away from a book overwhelmed or gaining clarity on one next right step. The first becomes a doorway to self-criticism, paralysis or burn out. The second becomes a life-giving deposit on our journey.

The Holy Spirit makes it personal.

I’ve experienced firsthand that God will not only give us wisdom about principles of parenting, but also specific key insight into our kids’ hearts. I have been floored time and again when I’m come to a roadblock with one of my kids and in prayer or just going through my day with a receptive heart, the Holy Spirit unlocks something that shifts the situation. I know he’ll do the same for you. No doubt, He already has.

The Holy Spirit comforts us when the ideas we tried didn’t work. (My hand is raised.)

Books have made a tremendous difference in my family, but almost none of them in the way that I expected. My personality may be more prone to this than most but sometimes subconsciously I feel like a book is going to be the magic pill that unlocks MAJOR improvements in the XYZs of my family. On top of that, so many books read like formulas and it’s easy to be dazzled by the promises of better things. No book can take away from the fact that life is messy and even solid principles take a lot of practice and resilience to apply. Did I mention that life is messy?

Scripture calls the Holy Spirit our Comforter. When the day falls apart, when our best laid plans hit the fan or a child doesn’t respond the way we hoped, He’s there to catch us. There have been times when I wanted a book to do what only a good crying session with Jesus could do. While we want all the answers, God wants us to know that we’re not alone. The same Jesus who wept with Mary and Martha is the same Jesus who meets us in our questions and brokenness. It’s okay to fall apart in His arms. Some of our greatest clarity comes when we’re honest with our hurt and disappointment and let Him bring the balm and peace our hearts desperately need.

The Holy Spirit empowers us.

All the books in the world can’t match the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our every day lives. His power in us gives us the ability to forgive, love the unlovable, see through the eyes of Jesus, endure when our strength is gone, and take courage to follow His lead.

God says in Zechariah 4:6, “’It’s not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord.”

Maybe for me that could read, “It’s not by all the right knowledge, all the best advice, but by my Spirit.”

This is good news, my friend.

Let’s read the books. Let’s pull on the mentors, the stories and ideas that equip and stir us up to good works. But let’s remember that the most important ally we need on this journey is living on the inside of us. I for one am grateful.

Friend, I’d love to hear from you. Does this resonate with you? What would you add? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply. If this encouraged you, I’d be honored if you’d share this with a friend.

Book photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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