first time obedience and a little child will lead them


i was raised, if possible, without discipline.  couple that with indulgent, sacrificial love from both parents and that’s the parenting style i grew up in.

i’m the result of it and my environment and the events unforseen that parents could not control and of god.  god’s involvement, deciding, grace, protection and unseen hand.  

when it came to raising up my own children and discipline, really, i was just winging it.

attachment parenting, skin on skin, sharing sleep, nursing until whenever; these things made sense, sounded like home.  but a few years into motherhood, i hit up against the cure to parenting’s ills – child training.

in the hands of a mature, unsullied, pious, luminous, kind, good manager, patient, frugal soul; child training just might produce a heart for god, but i’m still not convinced.  

i tried on those clothes, i pulled on the pants one leg at a time.  i laced up the shoes.

and it brought things.

less empathy, higher expectations, a focus on my will versus the child’s, physical punishment, fear, tears, anger indulged, frustration, pride, blame, behavior management, competition, anxiety and occasionally a child obeying the first time asked.


it took the holy spirit to shake me out of it.  

it took me peering through the crack of her bedroom doorway holding a spank spoon waiting for a four-year-old daughter, whose face was red and wet with tears already, waiting for her to disobey and get out of that bed so that i could go in and hit her again.

jesus’ kind heart for me, for her, in that moment, let the scales fall.  

perspective zoomed back and i saw crystal clear the reality of what my choices were creating and i was horrified.  those small years of training came crashing down in an instant.  

i rushed in and gathered her up from pink blankets.

“i’m so sorry, mazzy.”

she cried into my shoulder, into my embrace and as i wept apoogies she spoke through her tears.

“it’s okay, mom.  it’s okay.”

forgive me

and it is okay.  

it’s okay to be wrong about parenting, to try on clothes that don’t fit and to take them off again.

children enter the kingdom.  

it’s to such as these that it belongs.  

the wellspring of forgiveness, of grace, of love that they have for a repentant parent never ceases to take my breath away.  and every time their soft words pardon i see again how little i know of forgiveness.

photos ~ amykimballphotography

9 replies on “ first time obedience and a little child will lead them ”
  1. I love the grace that Father pours out to us to forgive us of our wrongs and yet to ever so gently lead our hearts in a new direction. and happy for you that your parenting is your own and not others.

  2. i am reading a great book on God’s divine order of the household. it makes so much sense! i’ve just started it and what i just learned last night that it is our order as the wife and mother to be gentle and peacemakers – it is the job of our husbands/fathers to be the disciplinarian. for so many years, i have taken on the role of discipline and it has hardened me. i now have to pray for more humility, love, and gentleness. you’re definitely ahead of the game!

  3. anonymous,

    i’m hopeful that you will be led by the spirit in your own decisions for your household. i don’t agree that there is one divine way a home should work…

    in my post, i’m trying to convey not that i acquiesced my disciplining of our children over to my husband entirely, but rather that i changed my mind on how i go about that process.

    still figuring it out.

    thanks for reading and posting.

  4. Thanks for sharing and encouraging moms/ parents. It’s such a privilege and responsibility that its easy to fall short on our own selves. Ive beaten myself over conflict handled in less than the best way. Thanks , Kiran Chang

  5. kaiya said, “i still love you mom” after a not so great moment with me and her. it always brings me to tears as i sit there listening to those words from her after crying through my apologies…

    their forgiveness and grace never ceases to take my breath away either…and i wish i could be more like them.

    and i’m still trying to figure out this whole displine thing…it’s hard to be patient and kind and empathetic…and to not let my anger control me. it’s been a real struggle for me since having 2 kids. i have to pray for forgiveness, grace, and patience everyday…

    thnx for the repost! hope your having a great vacay friend:)!! xo

  6. We have never used physical punishment with any of our four children – it never, ever fit with my understanding of Grace, of Christ-like servanthood. It has been a difficult path, though. My husband and I grew up with heavy-handed parents, and parenting for us is a constant exercise in self-discipline and forgiveness – very humbling and often exhausting.

    Because of our family dynamics, we have been criticized and publicly scrutinized in the circles we inhabit (conservative, Reformed, homeschooling, etc). The Gentle Christian Mothers website was a lifeline for me for many years when I felt very alone. I am so grateful now that we are surrounded by a pastor, elders, a community that treats children with dignity and grace. Grateful to know so many adults who look into a child’s face and see the image of God. I do think it is a moving of the Holy Spirit, and a slow awakening in many conservative circles, to repair the damage we have been doing to those little ones entrusted to us. There is Redemption at work.

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