January 26, 2011
Tough Pill to Swallow
"You're mean! You're the worst mom in the world!" These words, like a knife, ripped through my heart as I heard them pour out of my daughter's mouth. The precious child I gave birth to seven years ago - after 24 hours of labor - and an emergency C-section - had the nerve to say these words to me! These words make me want to spit fire and, quite frankly, throw her across the room. Don't worry, I did not resort to such violence. Because God has been working on my reactions, I calmly informed her that she would not be watching television that afternoon. She'd already lost the toys she'd thrown down in challenge to my authority. So, yes, I suppose to a 7-year-old girl, this makes me the worst mom ever. I had taken away all that she cherished in a 5-minute time span over the command that she go take a shower before school. Horrible mom, I know. All this is part of an effort to reign in some attitude problems she's having lately. And, as you can tell, she doesn't like it. Truthfully, I don't either.
Discipline. What do you think of when you hear this word? Does it cause you to shrink back in fear of a heavy fist coming your way? Does your body tense at the thought of it? Or do you see it as something that is necessary?
It's a hard word. One that comes with many connotations in our society. Across the spectrum of our country, there are strong opinions on how parents should discipline their children. There is much talk about how athletes and politicians should be disciplined for their wrongful actions. We do not like discipline. We do not welcome consequences for the way we behave.
Like this child who bucks the system when the reigns tighten around her, discipline does not feel natural to me. Self rises up within me and bulges up and out against the Authority over me. Stubborn flesh does not like being told what to do.
But, I know that a loving Father disciplines those He loves, just as I discipline my daughter out of my love for her.
Those who do not love allow others to stumble along, wildly, in the dark. They care not which way others go - to the left or to the right.
But, Love wants the absolute best. Love does not want you to stumble and fall. Love shines light on the right way so you can walk in it.
"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, 'My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.' As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." ~ Hebrews 12:5-13
Our pastor has called for a Solemn Assembly at our church this Sunday night. In preparation for this night, the church has been asked to pray and fast and repent. It has been a month of discipline. A difficult time of hashing out the ways in which I am still self-reliant. The intentions of my heart. The words that come from my mouth. The flippant way with which I spend (waste) my time...God's time, given to me as a gift. All has come under the microscope of the Spirit...and it doesn't look pretty.
In humility, I break before Him. I am broken. I pray that this won't be the last time. I pray that I will continue to be truly spilled out in confession at all times. I pray that this month changes me. I know it has. I want to encourage you, dear readers. When God comes after you in discipline, don't run from Him. Run to Him. For He loves you. And He wants the very best for you.