“If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
Our pastor’s wife Packey noticed that a few days ago in my blog, I listed that I’ve been reading a book called “No-Cry Discipline Solution” (by the way, it’s a really good parenting book). So she asked me things about discipline, such as how not to say “No” so much to children. Both of us admitted that it’s hard not to say “No” so much even though you know that one shouldn’t say “No” too much. And we discussed lots of parenting discipline stuff.
In fact, lately a lot of our friends’ kids are at the age where discipline is an important issue. The way I see it, usually parents have three levels of understanding about “discipline”:
Level 1: Some parents see “discipline” as systems of punishment and reward. These are the parents who are mostly concerned with how to administer a “time-out.”
Level 2: Some parents see “discipline” as teaching correct behavior. These are the parents who see discipline as a way to help set proper routine for their children, set limits and boundaries for them, etc.
Level 3: Some parents see “discipline” as communicating essential and long-lasting values to their children. These are the parents who, through modeling their own words and actions and passions, seek to help children experience grace and compassion and justice, to communicate to them that even when the children wrong the parents they will still be loved, and to help them become mature and confident individuals.
Our daily grind as parents may involve a lot of level 1 and level 2 discipline stuff, but I want to strive to be a level 3 parent. I want my son Chase not just to learn to behave, but to learn that he can be loved even when he does wrong, and in that way he can learn about God’s love and forgiveness.
As a corollary, discipline is really not a hard thing at all. When you love your child that much, and seeing that he’s just a child, it’s relatively easy to forgive his wrongs and be patient with him. But adult-to-adult forgiveness is really a lot harder. When someone does something wrong that affects me, I need to learn to show both grace and justice, but at the same time find God’s strength to forgive, both to forgive that person and to forgive myself. And that’s what’s hard.