The other night I got to go out to the grocery store without my boys. It’s always amazing to me what a difference it makes when I can actually focus on what I am buying instead of getting home and wondering why I bought 14 boxes of cereal and absolutely nothing for dinner! But my solo shopping trip euphoria was cut short the second I walked in the door and past the magazine racks.
Because right there, dead center, eye-level, was a magazine featuring a completely nude woman on the cover.
I cannot even begin to express how shocked I was. I mean, our little grocery store has a clientele that is mostly 70 years and up. The employees know my boys and me by name. They host Easter egg hunts and generously cut our meat however we request.
This was no seedy novelty store in a shady part of town.
Picking up the magazines, I turned them all around. Then I grabbed the items I needed for dinner and hurried out of the store. I climbed into my car feeling awful, vacillating between feelings of hopelessness at the downward spiral of humanity, despair about all the innocent ways my children can be exposed to such a terrible stronghold, and a righteous anger for the purity of my children.
My four-year-old, Jet, loves the story about David and Goliath. We regularly read it in our Bible App Storybook Bible. Our favorite part is when young David bursts on the scene and in the face of thousands of hopeless, fretting Israelites, stands bold and brave and confidently declares, “How dare he defy God’s army? I will fight him!” I felt a similar feeling rise up within me as I considered my 2 young, impressionable boys and what I saw in a place we go all the time. It wasn’t right. Not for me, for my boys, my husband, or anyone else.
The Lord was nudging me to not stay silent about this, but my heart was beating so fast. This mama prefers to stay as far away from conflict as I possibly can. I would rather go outside on a super humid day and let my carefully flat-ironed hair go all Chia Pet instead of confront someone.
Not to mention this part of motherhood SCARES ME TO DEATH. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing most days (ok, ALL days) raising these precious boys. Fight for their purity? How about just drive home, get my milk in the fridge, and finish watching those recorded episodes of Fixer Upper??
But I am learning that when the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, it’s good to listen.
So I asked the Lord for strength, took a deep breath, and headed back in to the store to find a manager. While it is tempting to go in guns blazing in righteous anger, especially when our children are our main concern, the stones we fight with must be those of grace and kindness. We are called to remember that this battle is “not against flesh and blood but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
Thankfully, the manager was full of grace and kindness in return and she promised to take care of the problem right away. In fact, she began removing the magazines from the shelf while we were talking.
Thank you, Jesus!
I am not naïve enough to think fighting for my boys’ purity will always go smoothly as this particular story did. But that is not why I am writing this post. I am also not writing this post to fan the flames of someone’s self-righteous indignation towards inappropriate material. I do not want to inspire a frenzy of heated complaints in the comment section below about how awful our world is. I don’t even want you to go banging down the door of Victoria’s Secret because you think that it is now your responsibility to fix everything that is wrong.
My heart is simply a call to the mama who may be wondering if she can make a difference in a world of so many giants.
The key is in seeking Him and committing our boys’ purity to the Lord. Then as we go about our days we will be open to the Spirit’s nudges…like maybe it’s time to take that step to put blocks on your Internet, limits on its use, avoid certain parts of the mall, monitor media, have the hard conversations, pray over our boys while they sleep, or graciously and quietly request the removal of a magazine. We don’t do this out of religious duty – our inspiration must come from humble hearts fully surrendered to the One who is holy and makes us holy through the blood of Christ.
This battle is not hopeless like the Israelites thought so long ago. We have opportunities every day to be obedient like David and ask for eyes of faith to believe that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Ultimately, we cannot protect our boys at all times, but praise God we know the One who can!
The battle is the Lord’s!
Thriving Family.com (Protect Your Kids from Negative Influences)
Oh. I love this. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Marci! God bless you!
Oh Julie, I totally feel for you! I was in the same position (with my kiddos) last year in our local Dollarama store here in Toronto (similar to Dollar Tree in the States). The aisle with all the school supplies, toys and storybooks had several hardcover books with pornographic images. Thankfully I was ahead of my kids and managed to turn them around before they got to that area. I quickly grabbed whatever I could and placed them backwards on the shelf way above any young children’s eye level. I didn’t want to discuss the issue with a store employee in front of my children. I had quickly emailed several of my friends asking if they had seen any of this ‘material’ in the dollar stores. I also happened to visit a few of their other locations within the same week. Once again, I was fuming to see them in the other stores as well. I made a point to go in the evening without my children and speak with the manager of the Dollarama not far from us. The manager understood my position. She suggested that I contact their head office in which I did via email proclaiming my disdain and disgust for the entire situation. I also was proud to state that I would no longer visit any of their stores unless something was done. I received an apology email but wasn’t told that the books would be removed from the shelves. Within no more than one month, I didn’t see a single one of those books in any of the Dollarama’s that I visited. And trust me, being a homeschooling mom, I love my dollar stores and visit them frequently!!! I must have been only one of many concerned parents that contacted them.
I’m proud that you went back in the store Julie, and really hope if this happens to other parents that they would have the courage to do what we did! 🙂
Hey Julie, I’m so glad you shared this post, friend! I had the exact same scenario happen at Barnes and Noble recently with three little kids in tow. The latest Playboy was front and center at the check out line and eye level with my 5-year-old son. I couldn’t believe it! I did the same thing and talked to the manager. He was very kind and removed the magazine, too. But, he also said “they’ve changed editorial direction”, as if that explained why there was a completely naked woman on the front. I feel like my conversation with him was just scratching the surface, but if we don’t say anything ever then I feel like we become part of the problem. On the other hand, I am learning that most importantly we need to be praying for our kids and educating them about what God’s good plan is for them in regards to their purity AND telling them straight-up what kinds of dangers they will face. I want my children to hear it from me and my husband first, before being educated by the culture. But…like you, I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing most days. 😉
Rachel! Thank you for sharing your story! YES, the BEST thing we can do is pray and educate. Obviously we cannot protect them, but we can give them the tools and be obedient servants to the King! I love your heart!!
Exactly! When are you moving to mid-Missouri so we can be more than virtual friends? 😉
I’m really glad you went back and spoke to a mgr. I believe those magazines are often restocked by the outside company rep., so the mgr. probably had no idea. Proud of you for showing grace too. Good job.
You know, honestly, it was a matter of being obedient to the Lord. I was so scared, but He is so faithful! Thank you for your encouragement today.
Thank you for this post. Being the mother of 1 boy and 1 girl, I agree with your thoughts wholeheartedly.
Praying for the purity of our children is vital! One of the 5 verses I prayed daily was not to set any vile thing before my children. Psalm 101:3, praying thoughts, words, actions, jokes, movies, TV, mags… nothing would corrupt my children’s heart nor thoughts. Then praying my two to be confident, never prideful, to be humble and gentle like Jesus. As we water… and wait… we shall see, we shall see! May the Lord establish the work of our hearts and hands!
Thank you for your courage and commitment to helping us as Mom’s and our children. You are a blessing!
Thank you so much for this. It was super encouraging. I recently had the same exact Barnes and Noble situation as Rachel … I was mortified and shocked. Thank you for your winsome wisdom!
One person can make a difference. Thank you for having the courage to stand up for your boys, and protect their innocence as long as possible.
I flip over a magazine with a picture of a woman without enough clothes on in stores too! I am glad I am not the only one. I never thought of talking to a manager but I never saw a magazine with a naked person on it either. Way to fight for the Lord! You go girl!!