I often make discipline about me. My frustration, my desire for a particular behavior, my anger, my sense of justice, my convenience, my level of energy.
When life feels simple and the day is flowing smoothly, the chores being accomplished, no major crises happening, the baby’s not crying, and I feel overflowing with love and tenderness for my children, discipline is about training them up, presenting the Gospel to them, nurturing them and little else.
But when it’s 4:49 and I’m trying to thaw the chicken that I forgot to take out that morning, and the baby just spit up his entire feed (all over me), and my socks keep sticking to the honey that was spilled at breakfast that morning, and the phone is ringing off the hook, and I’m supposed to bring snack to caregroup that night (which I forgot about until 3:00 this afternoon), and my husband calls to say that he’ll be late, and then the need for discipline arises, I must confess, it often becomes about me, and not my love for my child.
In my frazzled state of being, my natural tendency is to resort to discipline as punishment. And yet the purpose of disciplining is not to punish, but it is to restore, to bring my child back under the authority and blessing of God.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Hebrew 12:5-6 (italics mine)
Last night, I attended the third in a series of courses on parenting, hosted by our church. The series is The Case for Kids and is based on the book Shepherding Your Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp. God was so kind to remind me of these concepts, of the love that God has for his children when he disciplines them, just as my discipline is meant to stem from my love for my children. As he says in the course,
“Discipline is us delighting in our children. It’s us loving our children too much to leave them in the place of danger.” Tedd Trip, The Case for Kids
The place of danger, of course, is where they are out from under the authority and blessing of God, who instructs them to obey and honor their parents. And so it’s not about me at all, but rather it’s about me restoring my children to the rule of God in their lives, loving them enough to do the difficult work of Biblical correction so that they can be in right relationship with God.
I’m so thankful that God loves me enough not to leave me in my very human, very sinful state. He loves me enough to continually chasten and correct me, as He sanctifies me and molds me into the image of Christ. I pray that I will learn to imitate that kind of love as I raise up these precious lives that He has entrusted to me.