When you got in trouble as a child, did you ever hear this phrase before the boom was lowered? “This hurts me more than you.” Ummm, I don’t think so. Whose behind is stinging right now?
As a parent, I understand it’s not as simple as that. Discipline is no fun for the one who has messed up, but it’s no cakewalk for the one handing down consequences either.
For example, when my kids were in elementary, playground time after school was a reward for good behavior. I loved chatting with other moms while they played. On days when they didn’t hit the behavior mark, I was just as sad as they were when we walked past those giggling children and cackling moms on our way to the car. Why did I have to be punished, too?
Fast forward a few years and my daughter recently got a speeding ticket. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with an extra driver around. So I was just as bummed as she was to take her keys away for a bit. Now I have to drive her to work and her siblings to a myriad of sports workouts and practices. Good grief . . . how inconvenient!
On top of it all, the moment you deliver the consequences you see the “face.” You know the one . . . that you-just-stuck-a-knife-in-my-heart face. No matter how disappointed or even angry you are, when your children hurt—even as a result of their own actions—it matters.
Parenting is already pretty difficult. Is discipline really so important?
In the midst of my whining, I got an image of God walking through a pristine garden in the cool of the evening . . . alone.
Remember in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve made their big boo-boo? Prior to then, God hung out with them in an incredibly beautiful place he created. It looks to me like he really enjoyed their company. But when they disobeyed, there were consequences.
God had to look them in the face and tell them how they would suffer as a result. I can only imagine their heartbroken, frightened expressions. God created them . . . of course their pain mattered to Him. But I think, most of all, God was saddened that he could no longer be in their presence. I believe he missed them.
If God didn’t take the easy way out and let his kiddos slide, I probably shouldn’t either—no matter how much it hurts or inconveniences me. Consequences shape, mold and prepare them for life.
And you know what? While discipline is critical, so is grace and forgiveness. God gives us a great picture of that, too. He planned out a way for all his children to move beyond mistakes and find forgiveness through Jesus. Of course, that was no cakewalk for him either, but I think he believed we were worth it (Hebrews 12:2).
If you want some great resources on disciplining your babies in love, here is a link full of practical, biblical guidelines from experts that I think are helpful . . .