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The Devil’s Playground (Part Two): Spiritual tools for dealing with children’s nightmares and intrusive thoughts

Opinion/Resources/Christian Perspective
By Jenna Ditsch

Photo: Deposit

As parents, our instinct to protect and nurture our children is unwavering. We strive to fix their problems, soothe their pains, and guide them through their fears. Yet, what do we do when we find ourselves feeling helpless in the face of their nightmares and intrusive thoughts?

During my time in various social media groups, I’ve observed a recurring concern among moms: feeling ill-equipped, or even helpless, when their children experience nightmares or intrusive thoughts. I’m not here to offer you a one-size-fits-all approach, as each situation has its own variables of complexity, but I will tell you that as I’ve faced these problems in my own life and in the lives of my children, I’ve come to believe that many of the battles our children face are not merely psychological, but spiritual.

The Intersection of Spirit Realm and Thought-Life

In a world where the supernatural is often relegated to ancient texts or far-way places, the reality of spiritual warfare can be dismissed, even by those who profess to believe the Word of God as true. However, just as the wind’s presence is not seen but felt through its effects, so also does the spiritual realm influence our lives in profound ways. The enemy, described in the Bible as a lion who prowls and preys on the vulnerable, spares no effort to sow seeds of fear, insecurity, and anxiety in our children’s hearts.

I grappled with nightmares and intrusive thoughts from childhood through my early twenties and experienced a resurgence during postpartum anxiety after my first child. As I deepened my faith, I noticed a correlation: understanding God’s identity increased my awareness of my authority in Christ, gradually diminishing the nightmares. Initially, I was chased, caught, and tormented in my dreams, but as I confronted my fears with God’s truths, the nightmares began to weaken. A pivotal moment occurred when I encountered God’s love very profoundly one night, which brought me to realize the extent of His power and protection, leading to the abrupt end of the nightmares.

Yet, after welcoming my first child, I faced a new challenge: postpartum anxiety and the intrusive thoughts that came with it. It’s like the nightmares were back—only I was awake. The mere mention of harm befalling a child would send me spiraling into panic attacks and despair. Desperate for relief, I turned to God in prayer once again.

Flip the Script—Jesus the Director

In a moment of divine revelation, God redirected my approach. Instead of trying to suppress these intrusive thoughts, He urged me to invite Him into the darkness of the “movie of my mind.” Visualizing Jesus as the director of my thoughts, I witnessed Him literally walk into my imagination and rewrite the script—what I later began to label as “flipping the script.” 

When the tormenting images would come, I would invite Jesus into my mind and ask Him as the director of my thoughts, to simply redirect the scene. He transformed terrifying scenarios into scenes of comfort and peace, and on occasion, He would even change a scary scene into a funny one that would literally make me laugh out loud. His presence dispelled the shadows of fear that once consumed me. The landscape of my imagination was literally being transformed as I asked Christ to renew my mind by giving me His mind, instead.

Not All Thoughts Come from You

As I continued to mature in my walk with Christ, I began to discern the origin of my thoughts: whether they stemmed from my own mind, God’s inspiration, or the enemy’s deception. Thoughts that centered around me, such as “What will they think if I x, y, z” came from me. Thoughts that inspired me to show love and compassion to others could most often be attributed to God. And thoughts that brought fear, worry, insecurity, etc., I deduced came from the enemy. 

Not all thoughts were my thoughts!  This was a game changer because I didn’t have to try and figure out “what was wrong with me” but rather learned to reject the thoughts that I knew were not mine and to replace them with God’s truth, instead. If the enemy, the accuser of the brethren as he is called, planted a lie in my head, I would flip the script on him and declare the opposite, instead.

With Jesus as the director of my thoughts, even the most frightening scenarios became opportunities to flip the script and even an invitation from God to enter into prayer and intercession for others, at times. With God’s Spirit in my heart and His Word on my tongue, His presence infused every aspect of my mind, and every valley of despair became a pathway to hope, instead. The battleground shifted from fear to faith—I knew I was fighting FROM a victory already obtained, not FOR a victory yet to be secured.






The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. 



“No pain, no gain,” as the old saying goes. But what about when there seems like there’s a lot of pain—but no gain? Meet Jenna, an ordinary single mom, who had an extraordinary experience from “graveyard to garden” in the midst of a traumatic life collapse. In the span of a few weeks, she lost her husband, a close family member, her house, her job, and her dreams for the future. Jenna had reached the end of herself and had nothing left but a desperate plea for help, knowing that without supernatural intervention, she wouldn’t survive.

Jenna had a spiritual encounter in which she learned how the graveyard of all that had died in her life could in fact be the rich soil of a garden in which a new future could be grown.

Jenna is a versatile, forward-thinking strategist with extensive experience in education, writing, ministry, and coaching who desires to help the overwhelmed parent, educator, or writer desiring creative alternatives to “one-size-fits-all” parenting, education, and publishing.

 If you long for more but feel stuck settling for less, join Jenna on the journey to find God’s way through. Visit her website for more information!

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