My dad was a military man whose father was a military man.
Sometimes, his boot camp methods made it home.
Like the time he woke us all up after we’d gone to sleep, lined us up in the kitchen while we were half-dazed from sleep still, and interrogated us (yelled) over who put the jelly jar back in the fridge without wiping down the outside of the jar first.
Or the time he put all us kids and a baseball bat in a bedroom and told us to fight it out until someone confessed to whatever horrible crime had been committed.
Or the many threats of polygraph tests and elaborate forensic schemes to uncover a culprit or that everyone would be punished severely until someone took the blame.
This was the discipline he knew, so this was the discipline he gave.
I’m a mom. I know the importance of discipline to direct the hearts and minds of our kids. I want my children to learn personal responsibility and the nature of consequences for poor decisions.
But I also know something else….
Our homes need grace.
Not parents who ignore the issues, or who are uninvolved or lazy and can’t be bothered, or who don’t want to follow through with training and right discipline.
Or spouses who give up, or grow bitter, and don’t care enough to talk it out and find a way to grow closer instead of grow apathetic.
No, this: Heaping portions of deliberate grace.
The urge is there, of course.
When my wayward cat dashes out the back door for yet another jaunt through the woods, we want to know….
Who didn’t shut the door? Who was the last one in the house?
Who is to blame for this?
A drain gets clogged and we want to assign responsibility.
Who isn’t following proper plumbing protocol?
Who is to blame for this?
Blame. We want to assign blame. We want someone to fess up.
But so often that just pushes the guilt around, and our kids tremble like Adam and Eve in the Garden, pointing fingers, making accusations. (This woman you gave me. That serpent who lied.)
She did it.
No it was her.
I only did it because she told me to.
Sometimes, truthfully, when we’re stressed and tired and overcome, it becomes less about lovingly correcting character. It’s needing an outlet for the anger of the moment and placing a cumbersome load of guilt onto the shoulders of a kid or even a spouse who’ll be crushed by the weight.
It takes a discerning mom to know the difference:
When to assign the consequences of loving discipline.
And when to hold a repentant child close….or one who simply made a childish, foolish, costly mistake….and whisper, “I forgive you. It’s okay. Now you know what to do next time.”
Jesus told his disciples:
Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously (Matthew 10:8 MSG).
In the NLT, I read:
“Give as freely as you have received” Matthew 10:8 NLT
And Paul said this:
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32 HCSB).
The Message says it here:
Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 MSG
Don’t be stingy about this. Give mercy, give grace, give healing, give freedom, because I’ve given all that to you. I’ve poured it down in a shower of undeserved blessing on your heads, just drenched your soul deep-down with my love.
So, don’t dispense grace to others with rations of tiny drops or an insufficient trickle.
We’re grace-givers because we’re grace-receivers. We’re human. We sin. We say the wrong thing. We get snippy or react in frustration. We forget. We make a bad choice. We break things. We lose things.
Sometimes we make a right awful mess.
But I want to be a family that “does grace and second chances.”
That means correcting and instructing my children when necessary, delving in deep to the sludge of sin, assigning right consequences when needed and sticking with them.
Yet, it also means knowing their hearts well enough to respond when they need to see Jesus-grace in me. See how He forgave a mob of murderers screaming at the foot of His own cross. See how everyone needs mercy sometimes.
It’s not always assigning the blame that matters.
It’s about teaching them to make a better choice in the future.
More than that: It’s about leading them to Jesus.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!
To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King