She came into my bathroom and I could tell by the look on her face something was not quite right. Trying ascertain the source of her unhappiness, I did a quick scan of her outfit. I had helped her pick out the tutu type skirt. Seeing that the t-shirt she had been adamant about wearing with it, almost entirely covered the skirt – I made an assumption and began to fix the problem.
“You can tuck it in like this, ” I began as I physically moved her toward me. Her facial features quickly told me that this was not something she was okay with, so I moved onto plan b. Grabbing a hair tie from the drawer and again trying to show her a couple of cute alternatives, I could not understand the emotion that spilled from her eyes as she began to wail and pull away from me.
I am still not sure the rhyme or reason that brought her to me in the first place that day, but it will be a long time before either Eliza or I forget how it ended.
Stopping her at the door, I pulled into my lap and held her as she sobbed. Explaining that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t use her words to tell me what she needed, I dried her tears and encouraged her to take a deep breath. Telling her to look me in the eyes, I told her, “I am always on your side.”
Though the tears still streaked her face, her smile radiated her relief as she clutched me as tight as her little 5 year old body could muster.
As her momma, I know that there will be times when my rebuke and my correction will be hard for her to see as me being on her side. But, one day she will understand what I mean when I tell her that I love her too much to allow her to stay in her sin and behave that way. I know the likely consequences and what very well could happen next if I allow her to stay on that path.
Only the Holy Spirit can change her heart, compel her motivations, and keep her path straight. Yet I know I am to be a steward of that heart by modeling behaviors born of Christ-like motivations myself and discipling her towards righteousness.
So, I pray. I pray for the Spirit to redeem and transform her little, but very sinful heart. I pray for myself, knowing that I cannot do either the modeling or the disciplining on my own. I pray for God’s grace to cover my mistakes and to provide the discernment I need to “parent on” this day.
As I have thought over that morning’s bit of parenting, it occurred to me that my walk with my heavenly Father is not unlike my role as a parent.
Like Eliza not understanding that I am for her and not against her, all too often I forget that God, Himself is on my side as well. Not only does He love me and want the best for me, He is powerful enough to deliver. His promises are always “yes and amen.” He knows me better than my sin allows me to know myself and He works all things out for my good and His glory. He makes no mistakes as He grows and guides me.
His discipline of me is never pleasant, but later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12). It is His discipline that proves His love for me (Hebrews 12 & Revelation 3). He loves me too much to allow me to stay in my sin and behave that way. He knows the consequences of my unchecked sin and what will happen next if I stay on that path.
This morning, I read in my devotional how sin blinds us, making us keen to zoom in on others’ specks while failing to see the logs in our own eyes. I took the preverbal “slap on the wrist,” confessed my sin and asked God to help me repent, to change my ways.
I felt like the line from the Tauren Wells’ song, “Known.” – “You call me out, to pull me in and tell me I can start again.” I love the word picture here. It is just like a parent loving, teaching, disciple-ing a child. The discipline this time was mild. I was definitely called out, but I can still feel loved by the gentle rebuke and the grace-filled forgiveness.
As a mom of three girls, I find myself reminding them more and more often that I am on their side. I first told this truth to my middle daughter, Piper. She tries so hard to muscle through her problems and tame her passions on her own. I tell her that part of me being on her side is that I WANT to help her and that I will love her no matter what.
This is also how God is on my side too. Sometimes, I imagine Him patiently waiting for me to finish fighting Him, wipe away my tears of frustration and just simply ask Him to help. Just as Piper’s life would be so much easier, mine would too.
I smiled later in the week when Eliza struggling to get some yogurt out of the fridge, responded to me with her own smile and said, “You’re on my side!” as I helped her get a snack. She is finding that using her words to let me know her feelings, wants and needs is a good thing.
I am finding that kind of honesty with God is a good thing too. So is His discipline. He is using it to transform me from “my side” to His and that’s the best thing.
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