Can I state the obvious? Parenting is hard! I thought the infant stage was tough, but man, these toddler years might be the end of me. It’s funny, because this has by far been my favorite stage to date, but it is hard. I think it is so hard because now is where discipline really starts to play a role. When they are first born, all you have to do is feed, change, hug, and snuggle them. But as they begin to learn, grow, talk, and build personality, you really have to teach them. Teach them simple tasks like feeding themselves, sharing, and how to throw a ball. But then comes the task of building character in your children, and teaching them the difference between right and wrong. Molding a tiny human to be kind, caring, and respectful is tough!
Let me share a story to illustrate what I mean. This past week, my husband and I had the first of what I’m sure will be many difficult moments with our two-year-old. We were in a store and she had picked out a puzzle. We told her that if she listened and behaved, she could get the puzzle. I imagine you know where this is going, right? At one point, she took off and started running and hiding under the clothes racks. We gave her a warning, and when she took off again and chose not to listen, I put the puzzle back. Cue immediate meltdown. I took her outside and got her to calm down, but she was still adamant about that puzzle. Oh, I wanted so badly to give it to her, but I knew not getting the puzzle was going to teach her in the long run. The lessons she could learn in this moment were worth not giving in to her. I honestly think it was a much harder moment for me than it was for her. As a parent, I love to give my daughter gifts. I love being generous with her. I love seeing her face light up, and the joy she has when we do things to show her love. So it was hard not to give in to her, but I knew it was the better option.
Later that evening, God placed the following Bible verse on my mind:
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.
Fitting, right?! The work and effort I put into it now will reap a harvest later. She may not necessarily understand why I am doing these things now, but later, when she is a mature young woman of character, she will be thankful. The discipline I give now may not bear fruit until later, but the payoff will totally be worth it. The more I thought about it, the more I think this can apply to all of us as well. God disciplines us and gives us parameters and rules for our protection. Growing pains are hard, but so necessary if we want to continually become more and more like Christ. Just like my child, I often times want to throw a tantrum in the process, but I need the discipline and reminders just as much as my daughter does. So my encouragement for you today, if you are a parent in the middle of raising your child/children, your discipline is a good thing and some day you will reap the benefits of it. Don’t give up! If you aren’t a parent, be encouraged today that the discipline God gives us is not a bad thing; it’s helping us to grow in Him and in turn produce good fruit.
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)