Parenting

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You Might Be a Bad Mom If …

Published June 16, 2017 by Dawn

I’m probably not a very good mom. Yesterday, my son reflected on himself while getting ready for bed and said to me, “I should probably stop lying. You would probably like me more.”

What was I to say to that? The truth is, his lying is a HUGE deal to me.

  • Number one: lies are bondage. If “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)” then what good is a lie? It’s no good! How can you put people you love in bondage and for what purpose?
  • Number two: lies show a lack of respect and love. How can you love someone and lie to them at the same time? And when you lie to someone, you are basically saying, “I don’t care enough about you to be honest.” Or, you are saying, “I don’t think you are smart enough to figure out the truth, so…” I hate both of those things.
  • Number three: What would Jesus do? Well, he wouldn’t tell a lie …

I could go on. I hate lies. I’ve lived my life being lied to and deceived by people I loved and trusted, and I hate the brokenness and suspicion that resulted. So when my son said this to me, I did what came natural … being a good mom wasn’t it. A good mom might have started with, “Oh son … I love you no matter what, but –“

Instead, I said, “Son, that’s legit.”

I kid you not. The truth just popped off my tongue and hit my son right between the eyes. He looked at me incredulously and did a nervous chuckle. I then defied motherhood a second time and I swallowed every instinct to immediately apologize for it. Here’s the truth: the way he lies – the ease and surety that makes me uneasy because I’m afraid he believes himself – it does kinda hamper my affections. You know how it is, moms. You know you love your kids but sometimes, you don’t like  them. We all feel this way at some point, right?! So it was truth and I delivered it unapologetically.

He just shook his head, chuckling, and said, “Mom, I can’t believe you said that!”

I sat down on the edge of his bed and said, “Son, your lying really needs to stop.”

I’ve been thinking about this all day, praying about it, because naturally, I’m always nervous about how badly I’m screwing my kids up. I wasn’t looking to justify myself, just exploring my own lack of good parental etiquette. Instead of finding myself coming  up short, I recognized a little of my own Father in it. You see, God hits us with hard truths sometimes. He allows things to dawn on us and when we begin to sense the Holy Spirit directing change in our lives, God guides us to that change with a healthy dose of truth that He doesn’t apologize for. He doesn’t even cushion the impact. If the truth is going to set us free, it has to first illuminate the bondage and break it. Being broken is hard, but freedom … who can deny it’s preciousness? It turns out God doesn’t always function within the guidelines of “etiquette” as we understand it either. He is loving, but often blunt as well. The Lord chastises those He loves (Heb. 12:6). We live in a time where this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s scriptural. God doesn’t always protect our feelings. He’s busy protecting our spirits and our eternities.

I think it’s important to remember that God still loves us in these moments. I love and adore my son to death. But his lying … I don’t love that at all. I could live without it and I know that this bad character trait will make his life a lot harder than life already is. I love my son so much. I don’t want to see him intensifying his own struggles by something the Holy Spirit can deal with. I want him to embrace this as an eye-opening opportunity to make a change for the better. God wants the same for His children. And the Bible calls Him a good, good Father. I guess I’m not so bad after all!

Unfathomable Love

Published March 6, 2017 by Dawn

“Do you love me?”

It’s probably the worst question I’ve ever been asked. It makes my skin crawl and I want to vomit every time he asks me this. I want to get as far away from him as I possibly can, crawl into a hole and fall asleep for a million years until I can forget that this ever came out of his mouth. Do you love me? His pleading eyes literally tear my heart into shreds.

How can he ask me this?

It started maybe a month ago. I’m not an emotionally vacant person, but I will admit that sometimes, I’m hard to read. It’s a defense mechanism and at this point, I don’t know how to turn it off. But here’s the thing: I am exuberantly emotional toward my children. They don’t have to question how I feel because I’m not defensive toward them. I’ve been stricken since their birth and I love them enormously. This question seems so ridiculously unnecessary that the first time he asked, I just laughed. Hysterically. Why the heck would he ever question my love for him?!

He was questioning it, though. Hard core.

My son has asked me many times over the past month if I love him. My response has run the gamut: at first, I was hysterical. Too funny, you crazy nut. Of course I love you! Then I was disturbed. Why do you keep asking me this? Of course I love you. Then I was serious. I love you, son. You’re one of the most important people in my life. Finally, I am so sad, I’m sick over it. How can you question my love for you? It’s consuming me. How can you not perceive it?

I didn’t want to write about this because my heart hurts over it and I’m letting you in to something I don’t even want to admit is happening right now. My baby boy is unsure about whether or not I love him even though I have expressed it in so many ways. There’s no mask. It can’t be mistaken. I love him so much and every time he asks me, it’s like he’s thrusting a dagger right into my heart. And the worst part is that he actually feels the need to ask at all. How does he not know?

I’ve been putting this blog off for a solid month. That’s why I haven’t been writing. I’m sorry, dear reader. I couldn’t bring myself to admit this to anyone else because it hurts so much. But I knew I had to eventually write about it because every time he asks me, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “He’s you, you know …”

Am I the only one? Am I the only child of God who looks to the Father in sincere disbelief and asks through tears, “Do you love me?” I’m incredulous, really, most of the time. How can it be?

On the wall in my room, I hung a canvas that I painted once, and I remember the look my mom gave me when she saw it. She had no idea what it meant … it was my heart cry. It was my first attempt at mixed media journaling and it says “U LUV me.” Not “I love you” or anything normal. Just a bewildered, “I can’t grasp the fact …” It’s unfathomable. He loves me. My King loves me.

When my son started asking this question, I couldn’t understand why he was so serious about it. But as the Holy Spirit began directing my thoughts heavenward, I realized that the pain I feel when my son asks me this in all seriousness is the same pain our Father feels when we doubt His love for us. After all, if we read our Word and are people of prayer, there’s no mistaking how He feels about us. But there’s a whisperer, in my child’s ear and my own, doing his best to convince us that we are unlovable. And even though God is exuberantly expressive about how He feels, we choose to believe the lie because deep inside of us are roots of insecurity that have a strangle hold on our hearts.  I’m not good enough, therefore I am not worthy of love.

Unworthy? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We didn’t earn His love. We were born into it. The moment He conceived us was the moment He loved us fiercely, and He displayed His passionate love for us by sending Jesus to rescue us from the enemy’s clutches. He demonstrated His love by His willingness to endure pain and suffering and death on our behalf. While we were still sinners. While we were far away from Him, separated by a chasm of sin, entangled in a sordid love affair with the devil and the world. God loved us then.

“Neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We’re His. He loves us. When we accept Jesus and come into this love as a child of God, there’s nothing that can tear us away from His affections, or tear His affections away from us. We can walk away if we choose to, but that doesn’t cause God to stop loving us. And I am convinced that at the end of this life, when judgment must happen, it will be with tears of grief because many will choose to spend eternity separated from the love they’ve been chasing their whole lives and have rejected instead of embraced. I believe that moment will tear the heart of our Father to shreds. All this time He has looked at us and said, “Of course I love you.”

Trust me. He loves you. I know this because the love in me for my child is only a reflection of God’s love for His, and it’s consuming me. How much more passionately must God love us? Again … unfathomable.

How deep the Father’s love for us.
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To Make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

 

Child-like Sons and Daughters of God

Published February 8, 2017 by Dawn

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19-14).

It probably started out innocently enough. A toddling boy clambered up Jesus’ bent knees and threw his body clumsily into the arms of the smiling stranger, or a little girl ran through a mesmerized crowd and thrust herself into his laughing arms as he sat teaching a multitude on a hillside. At some point, Jesus encountered a child that stole his heart, and from then on, they became a large part of his ministry. Parents who, at one point probably held their children back for fear of upsetting those around them as they listened to the teacher, felt more at ease as they watched Jesus’ playful interaction with the children who no doubt grouped around him, taking advantage of the fact that he was the center of attention. His disciples were indignant. Perhaps Peter went first, grabbing a child before he could run headlong into Jesus’ sermon and accosting him to turn back and find his parents. And maybe James and John, those Sons of Thunder, stepped into the path of a gaggle of kids and put them on the road back to their families. Who knows which disciple reacted first or said what. What we do know is that the disciples wanted Jesus to be able to minister unhindered by the nonsensical interaction those kids were after.

Jesus’ response was precious. In essence, he said, “Don’t stop them from coming to me. Let them come!” And then he said something that applies to all people, regardless of their age: “…for such is the kingdom of heaven.” What does this invitation mean to us? What does it mean to be “such as” a child? I’ve pondered this for a while, made a list of qualities I find universal to children, and will do my best to explore the depths of what it means to be child-like in Christ.

To begin with, children are often more obedient. They don’t spend time questioning the wisdom of their elders. They recognize authority and respect those in authority. Of course, there are exceptions but they are the exception, not the rule.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

Holiness is a hot topic in the church today, only no one talks about holiness. They talk about grace and accuse anyone whose ministry includes righteous living of being “religious” or “under the law.” But I wonder what minister who truly hears from God doesn’t preach on righteousness and holiness, “without which no man shall see God” (Heb. 12:14).

A child of God is obedient not because he or she is trying to earn his or her way into heaven. It is because the child loves and respects his or her Father. This holiness is God’s desire for us, and His children pursue it because it is His delight. I don’t want to be righteous so that other people are in awe of my life. I pursue righteousness and make hard decisions every day that keep me in line with the will of God because I love Him and respect His lordship in my life. A child of God is not attracted to the laisses-faire lifestyle that says because of grace, we can live uninhibited. Uninhibited is a dangerous path for a child of God to walk, because it is flirtation with the world and the temptations of the enemy. A child of God appreciates boundaries and lives to know the will and happiness of the Father.

In the same strain, that child will actively seek the guidance of the Father so that he or she may know what makes His heart glad. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). He spent time away from the crowds, away from even his closest friends, to be alone with his Father and hear the will of God. He is our example, if we are the sons and daughters of God. Children know they don’t know everything. They seek the wisdom of their elders. They spend time listening and will follow the instructions of someone they trust unequivocally. They ask for direction, they want to know what will work and what won’t. They want to understand the world around them and how they fit into it. Our Father is able to instruct us, if only we will become like children and ask … then listen.

Children are a little intrusive. They do not understand, nor care to understand, the concept of personal space. A parent’s lap is a child’s perch from which he or she sees the world. There is safety there. Comfort. Peace and tranquility. Children love to get close and cuddle. Still to this day, my daughter will lace her fingers in mine while we stroll through the neighborhood, forgetting the world around us and walking hand-in-hand with me like we have since she was a toddler. If I am sitting in the living room after a long day of work, you can bet one or the other of my children (or even sometimes both) will be snuggled up next to me, melting into my side and making it impossible to move. I love this about my kids. I often muse about how much God must love it when a dear child of His refuses to give Him any personal space. I know He must delight in those moments when we press into Him, discontent until we are smooshed up against His ribcage, looking up into His face in adoration. Or as we walk beside Him, our hand in His, losing ourselves in that contact. It’s rapturous.

Another thing I love about children is their reckless love. Children have no prejudices. They don’t see color or sex, they don’t care about socio-economic status and they don’t spend any time worrying about where a person comes from (or comes out of). A child loves to love others. A child of God loves to love others. There are no lines of division. A child of God will love even those who are living in sin, praying earnestly in intercession for those who are taken captive by Satan’s schemes.

I’ve also noticed how much emphasis kids put on eating and drinking. I have a niece and nephew that must taste everything in my house when they come over, and wash it down with a gallon of milk. Children are good eaters. I’m talking, of course, before they become picky. There was a time when both of my kids ate a vegetable and fruit at every meal … the good ole’ days. Anyway, the point here is that when there is food and drink available, kids will eat when they are hungry. And they are mostly hungry. A child of God will exhibit the same kind of ravenous hunger and thirst when it comes to the Word of God and communion with the Holy Spirit. When the Food and Drink are available, a child of God will unabashedly dive in to satiate the spirit-hunger that comes upon them. He or she will take time to feed off of the goodness of God on the regular to keep from starving to death spiritually. And a child of God will notice spiritual starvation and immediately hit the heavenly pantry for a powerful snack or a banquet at the end of a long day.

Finally, children are full of joy. They laugh. A lot. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Children of God will find strength in being joyful. Satan will try to wreck the lives of God’s children because he knows that a child of God is stronger when joy is abundant. He saps us by destroying all our reasons to rejoice in God. But here’s the secret: God is our reason to rejoice, regardless of our circumstances. Christ alone. A child’s greatest delight is their parents. Not their belongings or their friends. Not their positions of sports teams. Simply their parents. If God’s children can get back to the simplicity of this kind of love, we would be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We would be strong in spite of the storms of life, because we would live in the joy and delight of our savior.

 

 

 

 

Zoloft didn’t do it, God did!

Published December 7, 2016 by Dawn

Can I just testify for a moment?

These last few months have been hard on my family. Worse for my son than for the rest of us. With today being the culmination of all the heartache, he set his sights on this day months ago and told me he wasn’t going to even get out of bed today. As I watched his emotions derail, my prayer life leveled up. God, this is your son. It’s time to take over. I need you to get him through this time because I can’t. I became a desperate beggar at the feet of Christ many times a day over the last few weeks, interceding fervently for my children.

Two days ago, I made the necessary plans and took time off work. My son was throwing out both verbal and nonverbal cues that I could expect today to be a day of deep sorrow and grief. I took one day off to prepare myself, and today off to be with my son.

He ditched me.

I took my daughter to school this morning, grabbed his favorite breakfast from a drive-through and headed home determined to fight sadness with some good ole’ fashioned love and attention. I pulled up outside my house and before I could put the car in park, he was sitting in the seat next to me, fully dressed and ready to go to school.

What just happened?

I looked at him and smiled. “Hey, what’s up?”

“I’m going to go to school. I’m going to be happy today.”

Let me shed some clarity for you: I was prepared to medicate my child to get him through this day! Apparently, God just needed him alone for a few minutes. In the short time I left to take my daughter to school, my son had grabbed on to a very mature decision and changed the trajectory of his entire day.

I have spent years worrying about the people my children will become. Their earthly parentage sends shivers up my spine, and in a case of nature vs. nurture, I’ve always worried it might be a losing situation either way. When they were little, I prayed over them every day, “God, if you are my Husband (Isaiah 54:5), then you are their Father. Help me raise them!”

I’ve been terrified since then too, that I am going to fail my children. I am fully aware that my battle between my spirit and my flesh happens in full display before my kids. Home-life casts me as very hypocritical. When this battle started, a whole new level of flesh vs. the spirit happened and I watched flesh deliver blow after blow, wreaking havoc on an already fragile witness before my kids.

Yet here I sit, completely dumbfounded at this sudden turn of events. His decision to be happy in spite of dreadful circumstances is so unlike me. I’m not that strong. In fact, I have resorted lately to simply quoting scriptures instead of giving real thought-filled advice because I suddenly recognize how little wisdom I actually have when it comes to some things. So when he turned to me two days ago and said, “Mom, I’m scared,” I looked over at him and replied, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind.” I also rattled off a few others that bubbled up out of my desperate mommy heart because that’s all that I have to give right now.

My kid went to school today. He wasn’t going to, but he did. Not because of anything I said but because His Father spoke a word in my absence that put demons to flight, broke chains of bondage and set a captive free. Zoloft didn’t do it, God did. HALLELUJAH!!

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Published December 6, 2016 by Dawn

“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.”

                                                                                                                -C.H. Spurgeon

 

It isn’t a gentle lolling thing, it is a tempestuous monster. Gentle things don’t slam you. Mountainous, raging things slam you. They rock you to your core, throwing you around like the mud that you are. They make you forget that you are solid.

You break.

I found this quote today while scrolling through Pinterest in search of adequate expressions to quantify the last few months of my life. I’m clinging to the Rock at this moment, aware that to let go is to drown in the circumstances. I didn’t swim to this Rock, I was slammed into it by circumstances I can’t control. At this point, I can hardly even control myself. I may be holding to this Rock, but the storm is raging and I am hanging desperately to Him while my body thrashes helplessly about in the waves.

I’m not strong, so my grip is not solid. This wave pulls me away again and again, drags me out away from the comfort and safety of the cleft, but over and over slams me into the Rock of Ages.

This storm has taken all surety. I am no longer certain of anything other than the steadfastness of this Rock and the determination to hold on to Him. I feel hopelessly tossed in all that I know or ever considered to be true excepting this one thing: I can hold on to this Rock and He’s not moving.

I feel truly blessed here. Not because of the assaulting waves of life, but because they have cast me into the only position that brings peace: I am helpless at the Savior’s feet. As I worshipped at the altar this week from a place of surrender and brokenness, telling God to be glorified in the place I have fought so hard to keep from accepting, I heard His Spirit whisper, Glorify me now. This is what is means to be blessed and highly favored.

Suddenly, His definition of blessed dawned on me and I realized that we’ve had it all wrong. Where once I saw material gain as being the epitome of God’s pleasure pouring out on us, I now see God’s adoring smile because in my brokenness, I have chosen to cling to Him. He calls me blessed because He trusted me with something so monumental. Not things, but a message of comfort from a dark place that someone else might need. God entrusted that to me. His favor is in the message that others will hear, even though right now it hurts. This storm is knocking me about, bruising me and breaking me. Tearing through my flesh and hurling me again and again into the side of Christ. It hurts, but I have found where I belong. This cut, made by a soldier’s spear so long ago, was chiseled into His flesh so that one day, I might hide there and be safe from the storms of life. Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.

I am certain of this one enduring truth: we belong there. That cut was made right beneath the heart of Christ. We belong there, next to His beating heart. Its rhythm is a tonic of peace we will never know unless we’ve been pressed into His side. It’s rapturous. Paul’s injunction to glory in our sufferings never made sense until now. How can we? Suffering is so hard. To rejoice in it is utterly impossible. Unless you’ve been there, nestled under his heart, lulled by the beating of His love for you. To glorify Him then is so normal. I have found it’s all I was made for. Everything else has suddenly become a chasing after the wind. Praising Him has become a weapon of my warfare. I can be here, nestled in the cleft, and reflect His adoration back toward His loving gaze, thoroughly enraging the enemy without fear because I am safe in His arms.

Oh! Beloved of God, surrender to the waves and allow yourself to be slammed into the Rock. Cling to our Rock. He is a mighty fortress and shield. Crawl into the cleft and be sheltered. Adore our Lord because He alone is worthy of all praise. Be blessed and highly favored there. Surely you know by now that the enemy doesn’t relent. He can only be defeated. Not by you or I because we are powerless. By our great and mighty King, who delivers all who delight in Him. Find your delight in the Rock of Ages and be delivered. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Published October 5, 2016 by Dawn

I have just survived a dark and stormy winter, and I’m ever so grateful that seasons change.

The sadness drifted over me subtly. In fact, I didn’t even notice it was there at first. What I did notice was minor irritations becoming major. Things I often overlooked suddenly choking me. Moments became endless. Bad moments were torturous. Every detail of life was hitting me with gale force.

For the first time since my early twenties, I found myself in a deep depression. Overwhelmed with life and overcome with a sadness I didn’t know how to deal with. My kids had no idea what was going on, but they did finally know what was for supper: “Whatever you can find.” I couldn’t even feed my family. I went to work faithfully every day, complaining to anyone and everyone about everything because there, everyone pretends to listen while they look over your head for someone else to talk to. At home, I scurried around doing all the chores and refusing to talk to anyone because here, no one’s patient enough to endure that kind of nonsense.

I sought refuge in sleep. I curled up on the couch every afternoon and took a nap for as long as my kids would endure it. If I were awake, I’d sit there listlessly while helping with homework. Inevitably, my son or daughter would start talking to me and I’d do my best to not let them see the frustration building up in my chest. I wonder if my face said what my mind was screaming? Please stop talking to me! I’m trying to focus on the battle I’m losing inside!

The severity of the storm wasn’t obvious to me until my daughter started calling me out on things. She was sick of cereal for dinner. Apparently I slept too much. Why was I so angry all the time? Couldn’t we have a decent conversation without me arguing or my eyes rolling into the back of my head? So of course, at this point, I realized something had to change. I felt like I was dying inside. When I was a teenager, I felt like I had nothing to live for and then, I would have rather let it happen than put up a fight. Now, I have a family whom I love with every fiber of my being. Depression can’t have me!

I put up a weak fight at first. I told my sister. We had too many things in common. It was winter in her home too. So I mentioned it to my mom, but I managed to sound casual about it. She took it casually. Finally, I sent my best friend a text. I hadn’t talked to her in several weeks and hadn’t seen her in over a month. Our friendship had grown a little cold on the back burner but I needed someone to know how desperate I was to get out from under this storm!

Her response was deflating. I poured out my heart in a text because that’s all I had in me. My last ditch effort to enlist someone to help me and my best friend didn’t even ask what was going on. She said, “I’m sorry … I love you.”

I just needed someone to save me from drowning.

Hopelessness settled over me. Strangely, it was like a soft blanket I was holding around myself. I just wanted to curl up in it and lay down. I wanted to stop struggling and sleep.

A very discerning coworker asked me how I was and really looked at me while I answered. She noticed my darting gaze, the tears behind my eyes … she softly suggested I look into medication. This winter had gone on so long, I took her suggestion home and danced with it for a few hours before my spirit shook me. You have to fight it, but how will you?

I will be real honest here. I’ve never bought into the world’s take on depression and mental illness. I’ve read my Bible and I know the battle is much bigger than chemical malfunctions in the brain. I’m not saying that isn’t a part of it, but I also believe there’s a spiritual component to misery, and he has a name. Satan.

Depression is manufactured in the pits of hell and hand-delivered. At my house, we take it in like everything else. Not because we like it but we’re often too busy to notice the package.

At the end of myself one afternoon, with no other option but to take medication against my better judgement, I threw myself across the couch after the kids went to bed and began to pour out my heart in prayer. I told God everything. I even said all the things that, on another day, I might have thought I shouldn’t. I got real because I needed to be healed. I needed sunshine in my heart again. I needed to be able to live again, not merely exist … and hate it.

He met me there.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.

Jesus met me there. Jesus, who battled depression at Gethsemane. Who, in his deepest hour of need, was left alone to grapple with his pain and suffering. His friends slept. When death arrived, his friends ran home. Jesus, who faced that foe way before I did, met me in my living room that night. He delicately unraveled the soft blanket that had shimmied up around my neck and was choking me. He cast it back down to hell where it belonged then he pulled me into his embrace and held me tight while I fell apart a while.

I came out of that moment healed. Not because a friend had all the right words to say. Probably more so because my friend had nothing to say and that put me in such a dire place, I had to run to Jesus. In one night, winter was over. I didn’t weather the storm with Him. He saved me out of the midst of it. He saved me from drowning. He ended my suffering by holding me while I fell to pieces. He didn’t urge me to move past anything. Or implore me to keep going despite the pain. He took my burden without question or remark and held me until grief was finished moving out. One evening in the arms of my Best Friend replaced untold years of medication.

I’m not saying the battle is over. It’s not. I’m just fighting proactively. I’m being more offense than defense now. I’m fighting through praise and thankfulness, instead of wallowing under waves of life. I am fighting in prayer and through time in my Bible. Time with my Bestie. What a friend we have in Jesus.

Discipline

Published August 10, 2016 by Dawn

I had to will myself to write this afternoon. I didn’t want to. Because I am writing on my daughter’s computer because I no longer have one. I am trying not to allow this great disappointment to crush me. I am doing my best to forgive and move on, doing what I know I need to do and feel compelled to do in any way possible after my computer was murdered in Florida by my own son.

 

My son had a meltdown in Florida. Several hours worth of one. This time, I did not give in. I am beginning to see how manipulated I can be by his emotional storms, and this time, I wasn’t having any of it. So when he picked up my computer and acted like he was going to throw it on the ground, I didn’t even flinch. I told him I didn’t care if he threw it on the ground, I still wasn’t caving.

 

Unfortunately, my son doesn’t have a bluff. He gets that from me. He unrepentedly slammed my computer on the ground. In that moment, I lost so much more than a piece of technological convenience. I lost weeks worth of writing I hadn’t uploaded to my onedrive. It hurt so bad. On the inside. My outward demeanor was placid. Hours later, after the tantrum was over and he was lying in bed sick to his stomach because of his behavior, he asked me to forgive him. In my house, it’s what you do. Not just saying “I’m sorry,” but seeking forgiveness. And the only proper response to someone seeking forgiveness is to do exactly what Jesus would do. Forgive immediately. I did that. The consequences of his actions are still hurting me, even though he’s moved on. And I love that he’s not carrying a burden over it. I love that my son is free, even if his actions have caused a wide ripple I have to deal with.

 

But of course, there are consequences. He is forgiven, but he will be working to pay off a new computer. I will not hold this sin over his head, but I will require him to work off the cost of a new computer, and when he asks for something, I will remind him that my number one financial need after we pay our bills and eat is a new computer. Not because I don’t like my son, but because I want him to understand the far-reaching impact his decisions have before more meaningful decisions arise in his life.

 

I’m beginning to understand discipline in the context of a loving relationship. The world would have us believe that discipline is bad. That it’s damaging. I have to disagree.

 

I’ve never been a strong disciplinarian. I’m a single mom and I live by the motto, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I have always struggled to care enough, after work and all the chores afterward at home, to address my kids’ need for discipline. I waited for things to blow over and went on with life. That’s how I ended up where I am now. My daughter governs herself well, due to her strong relationship with her daddy God. My son, on the other hand, has seen my lack of authority and has become a master at manipulating me. It took years for me to recognize how played I am.

 

This whole issue of discipline was something of a summer learning experience between the Lord and I. Because “the Lord disciplines those he loves.” I love my son. He’s one of the greatest treasures I’ve ever received. As I began to recognize the paths he seems drawn to, and petitioning God daily, “Please, Lord, don’t let my son turn out a fool!” God drew my attention back to myself in relation to who my son is becoming. “What are you doing to draw him back to safety? What needs to change and what can you do to affect that change?”

 

Shortly after this prayer, I found myself outside cleaning up the yard to mow. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a black and brown bullet zoom past my house and realized my dog had gotten out. I have spent so many hours and tears trying to keep this dog in the yard and right when I have things figured out, someone leaves the gate open! I had to stop what I was doing, grab his leash and go get him. So afterward, I found the kid responsible for this diversion and told him he’d be finishing up the yard cleaning while I started mowing. Expecting him to do what I said quickly because his dad was on the way, I was surprised to get mostly done with the yard before I realized he cleaned up only until I couldn’t see him anymore then he hightailed it inside and grabbed his things. He was long gone before I got to his unfinished mess.

 

Exasperated, I looked up to God and whispered through clenched teeth, “How do I discipline effectively?”

 

Are you prepared for this? I mean, really? Because what I felt led to do was so opposed to how I imagine someone might have handled this. You see, I called my son and asked him why he didn’t finish. He told me he didn’t see anything else. There was an entire tree branch in the yard!

 

I put it in his bed.

 

I knew he’d see it there, and I knew he’d have to move it. Most importantly, I wanted him to understand how inconvenient that tree branch was to me after he left. I wanted him to feel that inconvenience and begin to think about how his actions effected me. So I picked up the tree branch, and all the other little chitlin lying around and deposited it all on his silky brown sheet.

 

While picking up all the stuff he “didn’t see,” I gathered some rather messy, dry, leafy twigs to go with it all but the Lord stopped me. He asked, “Do you want to discipline or destroy him?” And I knew exactly what He meant. The mess that would have made in my son’s bed would have broken him. I didn’t want to do that.

 

The point of all of this is that God often disciplines us in order to steer us in positive directions. He doesn’t shield us from adversity or the consequences of our actions, even if we desperately wish He would. He’s a good father. He wants us to be happy, but he also wants us to mature. To think about others. To think about how our actions shape our lives and the lives of those around us. He does this because He loves us. He loves us enough to let us be uncomfortable sometimes, and enough to let us face the life we are creating in hopes that we will make a change. He uses this discipline to teach us self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. A fruit, you see, grows from the seed that is planted. So the Spirit, planted in us is capable of bearing this fruit, but we have to allow God to water and prune it. Both of those things can be momentarily uncomfortable for a seed.

 

But know this: God does not want to destroy us by His discipline. He wants to teach us. And when we ask for forgiveness for our moments of rashness, His response is immediate forgiveness. He loves us. He doesn’t want to burden us. He simply wants to train us to be wise, not foolish. Discipline is a beautiful thing. After three months of faithfully disciplining my son, I am beginning to see a wiser young man in the place of that foolish child.