Sunday, February 12, 2012

Longsuffering {Mama Love}

I thought I must be crazy, but no.... it's right there in internet ink.  This sweet mama explaining plainly how she disciplined her kids....  her kids each had only one tantrum because they expected their kids to obey the first time, so they did.  Her key is consistent follow through.   

If that was all I ever read, I'd be left with no option but to admit that it is simply my own imperfect follow through that has resulted in our home so plainly proving the doctrine of depravity.   Perhaps in more Edenic gardens, mothers and children hear a thing once and remember it forever, but at our place we need long practice at life, in the gritty real stuff of growing in godliness.

Are there really kids out there that have only had one tantrum?  Perhaps there are some personalities that are just so easy going?  Not in our home.   At our place none of us have heard a thing once and remembered it perfectly, obeyed it all just right from there on out.  I sure yearn to, and pray for that, but it's not the real world we live in.

Perfectly obedient people also don't seem to be the audience that Sciprute was written for.  I'm greatly comforted by the sweet, strong theme through the Bible that we are to persevere through trials to be refined more into the image of Christ, we are to bear each others burdens and cover over one another's sins, serve humbly and love patiently as we grow towards, grow in Christ...  Apparently this is our Savior's way for us and for our children to come to him.   Trusting nothing but him...

It seems plain to me that longing for perfect obedience, perfect children, is just part of what it means to live longing for the victory that Christ has accomplished for us but has not yet completely delivered.  He hasn't come again and brought his final perfect rule.  Praise be that he will do this!  But until then, we live waiting, yearning, sinning, and repenting, forgiving, and accepting each other over and over again.  And yes, I trust that there will be fruit to show for our training.... we are training our children as consistently as any human parents can.  But still, this daily hammering out of our sanctification together comes with loud clashes of iron sharpening iron.  

And it is a wondrous gift that we can live together, so sharpening and loving-serving each other.  That the Lord redeems us at all and lets us mirror and model his lavish forgiveness and acceptance to each other.... a family all growing in the grace of Christ, it is a stunning, awesome thing.

As for discipline, you can bet our bottom paddle that we spank our kids for defiance but sadly, it hasn't meant that we're done with discipline yet.    Oh how I wish it did!  (Damned Defiance!  I wish I never had to spank our kids, but for this, we've found no alternative.)  

This is a long road... and I am convinced (though I'm still desperate for living encouragement!) that serving our kids with the humble love of Christ means being authority and providing structure and security for them.  It means firmly disciplining disobedience to give them the blessing and safety and rewards of obedience.  And it also means forgiving them like the prodigal's father... before they've even vocalized their repentance, affirming our acceptance and commitment to them to continue in relationship together.... which, in our very human case, will probably mean the same lessons, the same discipline, the same learning over and over again.  

Motherhood is HARD and it is so because we are sinners and at least in our non-Eden neck of the woods, we are still deep in the trenches of training our four little loves five and under.   This is exactly why motherhood is so transforming to me.  Not because I've been so consistently firm that my kids usually all obey the first time, but because I know they're going to need longsuffering service from their mama to help them really learn deeply this knowing, understanding, loving, obeying.... in all of life.    I think if I somehow finagle a way to have my kids jump just right when I say jump and everything and everyone goes just my way, I would miss out on perhaps the most important piece of motherhood for me.

Motherhood transforms.   I need to be transformed into more of the image of Christ and I think that is one of the great ugly-beautiful blessings that the Lord has tucked into this motherhood package.    I need to be refined.....  the tears, the stripping away of fleshly weapons and reasoning, the defiance that drives me to desperate prayer.  This is grace.  

And too since our children are children and not soldiers, I'm trying not to bark orders at them but to humble myself, bear patiently when I need to take up the basin and towel and serve them and train them again towards obedience.

I'm quite sure our kids know clearly that we expect first time obedience from them:  "Yes Mama" from their hearts, from their mouths, with their actions....  obeying "immediately, willingly, completely" (like CJ Mahaney taught).   But I don't want Spanks and Consistent Follow-Through to be a chariot that I trust in to bring about perfect obedience in my kids.  

Far more than perfect (outward) obedience, I want to aim my mother love at leading my kids to repentance and trusting in Christ for grace to live for his praise.  For now there are some most trying times when I've got to patiently require and take sheer obedience for the sake of getting our family through 'til the next hour.... but even in these exception moments I want my eyes on their heart, on repentance, and not only on the paddle and their obligation to outwardly obey.  

And truly, repentance leads a heart to obedience.  Romans 2:4 tells us exactly how God leads us to repentance:  with his kindness, forbearance, and patience.  For sure discipline is a mercy that won't be withheld in our home... but may it be given with the kindness, forbearance and patience of God.  And too, may I keep my eyes focused on repentance in their hearts even before outward obedience as I serve and train these precious little ones to know and love and live all for the Lord. 

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