It seemed like the obvious thing to do when she slammed the door on her baby sister, who was crawling into her room, and nailed her in the forehead. That is not when I decided to take action, however. I simply told her that the door had to remain open for the rest of the morning then I proceeded to prop it all the way open with her Barbie doll house, that normally sets right next to the door. A few minutes later, I went downstairs to find the door closed again. That is when I decided that the next logical thing to do would be to remove the door.
Her dad had not yet left for work so, he obliged to do the job. Half way into it he realized the job was messier than expected! He had black grease all over his hands while clothed in a nicely pressed shirt and slacks. She was balling. He was becoming frustrated. I remained quiet as I held her, fighting the temptation to say, "forget it!" from the guilt invading my rational thoughts, hammering in that going this far out of our way to teach a lesson was not worth it.
Constantly navigating my way through this parenting role, which does not come with a manual, I happened to come across the story of Jonah in scripture later in the morning, a study I recently completed. Some highlights I gleaned from it were the awareness that God did not simply dismiss Jonah's actions, threaten Jonah nor act on frustration when Jonah decided to disobey God's call and do his own thing. God went out of his way to pursue Jonah and reveal the intention of His discipline. We saw it first in the boat headed for Tarshish when the storm came. Next, we saw it when Jonah was swallowed up by the big fish. Finally, we saw it when God provided a vine to shade Jonah from the scorching sun, then sent a worm to attack the plant so that it whithered away. Although Jonah was given several opportunities to obey through each trial, it took many trials to begin to transform his heart, in which the outcome of his heart we never do find out. So then we pick the story up with our own.
Some of the most significant actions we will take with our children in raising them will not be the most convenient. I could have overlooked the situation with Alexa thinking it was not worth the fuss. I could have gotten frustrated and opened the door again barking an idol threat. The act of taking the door off its hinges could have been my last straw of anger. Yet, those choices would have cost me respect and her the love and discipline she needs to know I care and that her choices matter. Simply acting while still comforting, I am hopeful, got the point across in a way that did not shut her down, but allowed her - even in her disappointment - to remain open to the lesson to be learned.
Just like God was pursuing a heart transformation in Jonah, although we may not know the outcome for the condition of their hearts, we as parents can pursue the hearts of our children through discipline that is intentional. The goal being, not simply obedience by our authority, but also discipline that fosters malleable hearts through relationship - even when it requires inconvenience.
The door came off. Rob washed his hands. And we all gave him a kiss goodbye as he headed off to work, including Alexa - with smiles.***
#20-#40 of a heart of thanks to God for
a willing husband
baseball in the rain
little hands rolling pizza dough
cooperation of Saturday cleaning
charts and incentives
whistles in party bags
soccer against my man and a little man refereeing with his new whistle
natures orchestra outside my window
a few moments to snuggle with an early riser
two-and-a-half year old still needing held
nearly five-year-old occasionally wanting held
scripture and prayer around the table
the discovery of a belly button
sword fights with spaghetti noodles
a green earth and blossoms
sunshine breaking through the clouds
words of affirmation and encouragement
I'm working my way to One Thousand Gifts of gratitude and linking up with Multitudes on Mondays at Holy Experience and Sol Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven.