Discipline and Alien Children

So parenting is really hard. I know this is completely new information to all of you out there {yeah right}…but it is REALLY, REALLY hard. I am so head over heels crazy about my precious children. There are days that I sit and stare at them in awe, thinking to myself “those are mine, how did I get so blessed?” And then there are days like yesterday. Ah yesterday…a day of epic parenting battles that had no winners. 

I have three children, one of which (I won’t name names) is usually so tenderhearted and cuddly. Sadly, an alien came and abducted that child, replacing with one that is going through a stage of being grouchy, disrespectful and rule breaking. This alien child has had a particularly rough week this week with everything hitting the fan yesterday. As I sat and listened to the cries coming from the bedroom, I couldn’t help but cry myself. The truth is, I hate disciplining my children. I do not like to see them suffer or cry. I do not ever want them to feel the sting of pain from me, even if it is “for their own good.” I completely understand the whole “it hurts me more than it hurts you” statement I heard from time to time as a kid. It hurts me to my core when my children have to be disciplined. I know it’s for their good and for their instruction. I know all of the repercussions of an undisciplined life… I am a child and family therapist for goodness sake! But oh how it causes me pain to have to cause pain… even if it is just making them sit in their room for the night. 

IMG_5909I don’t know how it is humanly possible for me to love someone with the depth of which I love my children. There is no way to explain it, there is no way to prepare for it. I love them so deeply that I would do anything for them… even discipline them. It is such a cliche, everything I am writing today… I know we have all heard these things before. But have you ever thought to yourself as your child was getting in trouble for the 5th time in two hours, “Why are you doing this? Don’t you know how much I don’t want to cause you suffering of any kind? Don’t you know I can’t stand to paddle you/put you in your room/take away your very favorite toy/etc? Don’t you understand if you would just do what you’re suppose to do I could make your life so much happier?”

This is what I was thinking to myself after round three last night. I leaned against the counter of my kitchen and I cried… and then I had the most heart wrenching thought. Is this how God feels about me? Does he feel this much pain when I disobey Him? Does it hurt him this much to allow areas of discipline in my life? Does he really love me this much? But as I was thinking this and feeling these things about my own child, I didn’t have my usual guilt and shame about my human sin nature. I felt loved.

I understood the love I felt for my child and was so grieved that I had to discipline because of bad choices. How much more does my God love me? How much more does it grieve Him that I have anything other than an absolutely full life? I was reminded of Hebrews 12:7-11:

“Endure your suffering as discipline [also meaning ‘in order to become disciplined’], God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.”IMG_6477

The word discipline in this verse is rooted in the word “disciple” or teach. It is not wrathful but loving, never from his own anger but for our own good. God wants us to learn from mistakes, difficult circumstances, or areas of suffering. He wants us to walk away more in tune with him, understanding how to make a better choice next time, how to have more faith in our circumstances or how to lean into him more when our suffering is out of our hands. He loves us so much that he longs for us to learn how to live life according to His design, “for our benefit.” It is amazing how God uses my own children in order to show me His own love for me.IMG_6451

I pray that I would discipline as he does, that my love would trump my anger or frustration. I pray that I will see areas of discipline in my own life as a means of God’s love and learn from it. And, I pray with all my heart that my children will always know how deeply I love them. But mostly, I pray that the alien that abducted my sweet, tenderhearted child will bring him back. very. soon. 

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