The end result we're going for (repentance and obedience), if and when it arrives takes up about 5 minutes of the day.
But what about the two hours it took me to get to that end result? And what if that end result doesn't happen?
I'm thankful for Christian parenting books. Super thankful. But there are more than one that make me wonder if they've ever experienced a strong-willed child. Would their methods work on my child if THEY (the author) were taking care of my child? Am I the problem? Possibly. But I kind of wonder if sin isn't the bigger problem... for both parties.
Because so much of my day is centered around discipline right now, I'm beginning to believe I'm going to teach my boys a whole lot more about the gospel in the PROCESS of disciplining them than in any other part of our day.
The problem? My flesh. I HATE holding back my temper. I hate going into his room calmly time and time again. It wears on me. And when I do a good job of remaining loving in the process, it's not uncommon for me to blow up and blow it at the end because my nerves are fried and I wonder if a little "shock-value" would do more than patient consistency. That PROCESS of discipline, that 10 minute, or hour long... that off and on all-day long opportunity to show my child the gospel fleshed out, is one of the most trying aspects of parenting I've faced to date.
I can't muster it up. I can't wake up and say, "Today I'm going to be a good mom" and pull it off. But the gospel compels me to be reminded again and again and again and infinitely again of what's been done for me. As a parent I'm commanded to discipline and do it consistently. I need to punish the offenses. But I'm not commanded to be a tyrannical drill sergeant. I'm commanded to follow the example of my Father:
-slow to anger
-abounding in love
This does not often describe my discipline. Is it even possible? Not on my own. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can go against my flesh and do the very last thing I want to in the moment. I'm thinking I should plaster sticky notes of gospel verses all over my house to remind me of the attitude I should adopt in the process of discipline. (Seriously!)
My boys spend a whole lot more time watching me wade through the "process" of discipline with them than my rejoicing or weeping over the end result. My guess is, this "process" that they observe is going to have a much more profound impact on them than whether my "methods" prove "successful" in the end or not.