Parenting, I’ve decided, is God’s way of showing us His heart– we just have to listen.
Right now my daughter is outside, happily doing her chores. I can hear her singing snatches of her Bible verses accompanied by the squeal of the wagon tires as she loads up hay to feed to the cow. A few minutes ago she came inside and asked for a drink of water. “You know, Mom,” she told me, “usually I beg you for milk or juice or soda, but when I’m doing hard work– nothing sounds better than nice cool water.”
She’s adorable, isn’t she? I know.
Right this moment, everything is good. But this is the aftermath. This is the reason my husband and I spent all morning with our little girl. There are so many things we want her to learn, so many truths we want her to claim for her own. But these things don’t just automatically get transferred from parent to child. These things have to be instilled. And many times it’s a battle.
Today was a knock-down, drag-out fight. In her mind it was her vs. us, but the truth is that it was the enemy vs. our family and we had to draw the line in the sand and say, “No more.” Putting your foot down is so much harder than overlooking things. Ignoring is easier than facing.
Mostly because taking your child head-on leaves you questioning every decision you make. Am I right? Am I being too harsh? Too lenient? Does she feel loved? Should we give her more grace? Will she truly understand what we’re trying to teach her?
At one point I found myself practically begging, “Please, please, sweetheart, listen to our words. Choose to discipline yourself into obedience so we don’t have to.”
It reminded me of God’s plea to the Israelite people, “I am offering you death or life, blessing or curses. Now choose life! Then you and your children will live.” I can feel His desperation in the words, His heart aching for them to choose good. It’s the way I feel as I watch her face, as I see the battle parade through her eyes. There is no making the choice for her, but there is the greater war for her soul that we can keep fighting– giving her every chance, every moment she needs to choose life.
And I was struck by how true this is of God. He is fighting on our behalf, day in and day out– giving us every chance, every moment we need.
When our daughter finally gave up her pride and submitted her will, there were three huge lessons she demonstrated for me. Three things that I needed to be reminded of again. And just maybe you do as well.
1. Be Thankful for Discipline
After all of the battle, all of the confrontation, all of the tears– we sat down to eat lunch and she asked if she could pray. In her prayer she said, “Thank you, God, for allowing me to be disciplined so I can learn. Thank you for loving me enough to help me change my attitude. I’m sorry it took me so long.”
As she spoke, my husband’s grip on my hand grew tighter and tighter. My eyes stung. Oh, sweet Jesus, thank you. This lesson, the one I didn’t even know she was learning– to be thankful for discipline– this is a lesson I need to be reminded of.
Can I fight off my pride long enough to admit my need for God’s discipline? Can I humble myself enough to acknowledge His grace present in the middle and take time to thank Him for it?
2. Doing What Is Right Brings Blessings
When she finally settled down and went to do her chores with a good attitude, it wasn’t an hour later before she came bouncing back to the house. “Mom, Mom! Guess what?! I am so blessed! A butterfly came and landed right on my foot! A butterfly, Mom! And then I found a woolly bear caterpillar. And then I saw a red-winged blackbird. Oh, Mom, I think God is blessing me for choosing good things. He always wants good for me, because He loves me. He is just blessing me and blessing me.”
Shouldn’t I remember this always? God’s ways bring blessings. Oh, they don’t make everything cotton candy and roses– after all, the work still has to be done, and hard work costs us something. But there will be pieces of glory along the way.
In fact, I think He delights in dotting our paths with reflections of His glory. Little things that capture our breath and swirl His love into our beings.
3. God Will Guide Us When We Ask
Just a few minutes before I sat down to write this post, the front door swung open. “Mom,” I heard her say, “I really need to talk to you.”
We sat down and faced each other and she carefully explained that she’d been talking to God as she worked. “I know I usually say that I don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, but today I think I heard Him. I asked Him what I could do to stop screaming at my dad, and to stop trying to sneak stuff behind my parent’s backs. And you know what He said, Mom? He said that I needed to apologize to Dad. I needed to call Daddy right up and say I’m sorry. He told me that He gave me good parents and I need to listen to them and obey them. Do you think that was God, Mommy? I just felt it right inside. I felt like God was talking to me and loving me as I worked. Is that what He does, Mommy?”
Oh, Jesus. Can I ever thank you enough for taking the time to speak to my little girl’s heart? Can I ever thank you for loving her even more than we do? Every day You show Yourself greater and more wonderful than I ever imagined.
I needed the reminder today that God is here. He disciplines because He loves me. He dots my path with glory. He answers my questions, filling my heart until I know His words “right inside”. He’s here. Right in the middle of the battles and struggles and laughter.
And wherever you are, dear ones, He is there as well.