Yesterday I was at the park with a couple of my friends (& their kids), where we quickly discovered that ‘outside’ playdates meant something different for the mom’s than “inside” playdates. I.E.: at the park: there is little to no real discussion amongst the mommies.
Yet, God is good & somehow we got to talking about Jesus & between saving asher from falling to his death on a ladder & keeping grace from eating every single woodchip in a 10-mile radius, I mentioned a recent ‘revelation’ God gave me during a discipline session w/Asher. A few weeks back I decided to draw the “circle of protection” diagram from the “shepherding a child’s heart” book. I won’t go into detail since this is going to be a long post as it is. But the gist that I got from reading it was, “You discipline to teach them to obey & obeying keeps them safe”. I wasn’t sure I bought into that whole thing, but i was at my wit’s end & so many had said it ‘revolutionized’ their parenting once they explained that diagram…so i brought out the doodle pad. Of course my little curious 2yr old immediatly asks: “What am I safe from momma?”. This went on for days where i hemmed & hawed & just wasn’t sure exactly. I mean, if he obeys me, bad things won’t happen to him? Really? I don’t know about that….then one afternoon after nearly maiming his little sister in a fit of rage (she tried to play with his trucks), he got a spanking & afterward was hugging on me. He pulled my face in close, looked deep into my eyes & said, “what am I safe from now momma?”. sheesh. So i feverishly prayed & tried to figure what i was protecting HIM from (felt like i was protecting grace really…) & a dove flew over my head & a beam of light shone upon us (ok, not really…). Sin. The issue wasn’t that he was mean to his sister. It was that he sinned. He disobeyed, & did not love his sister. He sinned. So, I explained (as best you can to a 2yr old) that he was learning to be safe from sin (w/a short discussion on what sin is…geez again…). For now, this was enough for him.
Anyhow, I’m sure it wasn’t that much detail yesterday, but Dana got the gist. Today she sent me the following email. I thought it was just so profound, that I had to share it w/ya’ll (I got permission first):
I had to thank you for what you told me the other day about what exactly our kids are safe from in the whole “circle of safety” idea. I’ve added it to our “conversation” after John is disciplined, and it’s really helped me feel like I’m teaching him something. And it goes along well with what we already talk about, which is that the Bible says you’ll be blessed and have a long life if you obey mommy and daddy. Gives a good opposite to what not being blessed looks like.
I was reading Phillipians 3:18 during my quiet time today – it says: “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” I’ve never thought much about this before, but it’s interesting that it says many are enemies of the cross of Christ, rather than just saying many are enemies of Christ. The way I see it is we’re enemies of the cross because the cross is what tells us we’re sinners in need of saving. Christ, as far as many non-Christians are concerned, was just a good man. But to admit that he dies on the cross for our sins is to admit that we’ve done wrong. That is the part that I’ve always had the hardest time with – the idea that I’m a sinner. I know I am, intellectually. But it took a while even after I was saved for me to understand in my heart what it meant that Christ is my Savior. I understood the Lordship thing just fine – I like to try to control things, so the fact that GOd wanted to have control of my life because He made me and had a better plan than I did made perfect sense to me. But I was always a “good kid,” so it took a while for the concept of me being a sinner to really sink in. And so I have a hard time grasping how to communicate this idea to John, because there’s still that part of me that hasn’t died yet (!) that thinks “oh, he’s not that bad – he just didn’t obey – do I really have to tell him he’s a sinner?”! Even writing makes me think – ahh, of course! But that battle still goes on. So, what you said yesterday made a lot of sense to me, and made an easy way for me to get into John’s head that every time he disobeys he is sinning. And one day, I believe, that will open the door for the questions to start (“Mommy, what is sin? Why do I need to be protected from it?” That type of thing). I kind of feel like part of disciplining at this age is just introducing a bunch of “open doors” where questions can be asked in the future! Then, reading that verse in Philipians today, it just hammered the point home — teaching John that Jesus loves him is wonderful, but that’s not the thing he’s really going to struggle with. The stumbling block is the cross – believing that we’re sinners and we need a savior. Because that offends our human side . . .
And today, for some reason, disciplining John has been easier than usual. I’ve felt like we’ve actually resolved something each time I disciplined him. I feel like I’m actually teaching him something Biblical, I guess, rather than just teaching him not to disobey.
That friends, Is what I consider Sacred Parenting. Thanks Dana.