I’m all for discipline. In a world that’s gone soft on some issues (like telling kids “no”), but far too harsh on others (like the lack of patience at a red light), I am completely in favor of making children listen to reason. After all, we are raising the future generation. It’s up to us to instill morals, model compassion, and correct erroneous behavior for a productive future for them. I mean, if kids think they can always win, get their way every time, and throw a fit when they are opposed, then they’re going to be in a world of hurt one day. Yep, you have to create an environment where they understand they’re not number one, yet still let them know they matter. There are so many lessons to be learned, but sadly we often miss the most important one.
As a mother of young children, I think nothing tries your patience like trying to get out of the house on time with your kids in tow. They move like molasses, whine like a broken down washing machine, and couldn’t find their shoes if you were paying them to. Make it a Sunday morning and it’s even worse. Like, can we just make it to church on time once?!
This past Sunday morning I was doing my usual routine. I had gotten up before everyone else. I had picked out each child’s clothing and placed them in neat piles on the couch. All they had to do was comply with simple instruction, basically. As I assisted my youngest two daughters with getting dressed and untangling their long tresses, I noticed my eight year old had fallen back asleep on the couch. I called her name, asking her to get dressed. I even added a please. I deserve some extra credit for that.
Then she pulled out the whine, like nails on a chalkboard. She lamented, “I don’t wanna go to church!”
My first thought was all the mornings I rose before 5am, while my daughter snoozed on. They were homeschooled! It’s not like they had to get up earlier than they wanted every day of the week. It was just one day! Instructing my child of all of this sat on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was to not have to get up as early as I did. I needed her to understand that one day she wouldn’t be so lucky, that she needed to get used to doing things she didn’t feel like doing! I wanted to tell her that she should have gone to bed earlier, that she was reaping the effects of her own stubborn refusal to go to sleep. This was my job as a parent, right.?! To prepare her for a cruel future!
So, with all this in mind I called her over to me.
“Come over here,” I instructed.
She plodded lazily in my direction, and as she got closer I reached for her lanky arm and pulled her quickly into my lap.
“My sweet baby,” I whispered, as I squeezed her gently, placing loving kisses on her forehead.
I held her for a few moments in silence, rocking back and forth. I could feel the frustration and attitude melt away from her. She eased naturally into my embrace, and the body that had at first felt heavy suddenly became light.
She giggled, “I’m your baby!”
I held her another minute, and then I questioned, “you ready to get dressed for Mom?”
She popped out of my lap with renewed motivation, “I sure am!
We have a huge responsibility as parents. There are so many lessons to be taught, but the one we most easily forget, especially in such a fast-paced world, is the lesson of grace. It’s given when we least deserve it, and it’s given in love. Out of the many life hacks I want to teach my daughters, the most important is how to lead a successful, emotionally and spiritually healthy life. One of my biggest ministry callings in life is the one I live out each day as a parent. So much of what they learn about Christ will be not just from my words, but also modeled in my actions. They see the love of God through me. I am the hands and feet of Jesus to the little ones, and they learn about saving grace when I bestow it.
I think back on all the ridiculous, unsavory choices I have made in life, and through it all, God loved me. Yes, He taught me lessons when I was less than my best, but above all His great grace called me back.
He said, “you are mine. I love you, child.”
I still have a tendency to be a brat. I can sometimes imagine my Father God shaking His head when I fear things like financial loss or hardship. He could rip the rug out from under me and show me that He is my provider, but instead He speaks to my heart with loving patience, He holds me in the comforting arms of His Holy Spirit and reminds me, I’ve got this, daughter. Do not fear, for I am with you.
When I doubt, He loves me still. When I blatantly sinned against Him, He waited for my return with open arms. When I am weary, bone tired, likely due to my own fault, He takes me in His arms. He bestows grace. And if there’s anything He gives me that I in turn can give to my children, it is that great grace, that loving patience, and that tender mercy, even when it’s not deserved.