A Bad Day at the Goodwill

I decided to take my three young daughters, whom I loving refer to as my “three ring circus”, on a little outing this morning to the Goodwill.  None of my dress pants fit right now, which I attribute to too many trips to Chick-fil-a since giving birth to said “three ring circus”.

The adventure started bad from the beginning.  As I was loading my five year old daughter, Abigail, in to the car, she told me that she had finished her cheese stick.  The cheese stick that she had in her hand 5 seconds ago.  The one that had two bites taken out of it when she showed it to me claiming she was finished and didn’t want anymore of it.  The conversation proceeded like this . . . 

Mama, “Abigail, did you really eat that or are you lying to me?”

Abigail, “I ate it.”

Mama, “If I look through this car, am I going to find a cheese stick hidden somewhere?”

Abigail, “I don’t know what you mean.”

Mama, “Is the cheese stick in your stomach or in this car?”

Abigail, “It’s under the car seat.”

Abigail has been having issues with lying lately, so even though I don’t want to, I have to punish her for this.  So I tell her that she is not allowed to watch any TV the rest of the day.  Cue wailing and nashing of teeth.  She actually said, “but Mama, I didn’t want that to be my punishment.”  Bingo – we have a winner.

While I am looking through the racks of clothing, my daughters decided to reenact a scene from 27 Dresses among the thrown off prom gowns and bridesmaid dresses.  I am okay with this because at least they are occupied.  Then my oldest decides that she wants to dance with the mannequin in the corner, which I am not okay with and I promptly tell her to stop.  She apologizes and promises to never do it again.  Now, five year olds must not understand what never means, because not two minutes later she is doing it again.  I proceed to tell her to stop, again, but more forcefully, which elicits a more dramatic apology and a promise to “never, never do it again.”  I think you can tell where this is going . . . This scenario plays out a third time, but this time it ends with me telling her she is being taken home for disobedience and is going to be immediately sent to her room upon arrival.

Cue more wailing and nashing of teeth.  As I am trying to exit the store as quickly as possible, every eye is on me and my wayward child.  With every cry that erupts, I feel that they are judging me as a mother.  I walk past a group of seniors who look at me and say, “Enjoy it.  It goes by so fast.”  And I just smile while I think to myself, “Not fast enough.”

As I tucked Abigail into bed and told her I loved her, she said, “Then why are you punishing me?”  I explained to her that it was because of my love for her that I was disciplining her so she could become a better person.

I had to ask myself, though, how many times have I been guilty of the exact same thing.  How many times has God told me, “no”, either through His word or a sermon or a natural consequence?  And how many times have I said, “I promise God.  I will never, never do it again.”  Only to break that promise. 

God forgives.  There is grace.  In 1 John 1:9 it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

But God is also a loving father who wants us to grow and to learn to be more like Him.  The author of Hebrews quoted Proverbs when he wrote, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (verses 5-6)

He goes on to promise that, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (verse 11)

Lord, may I learn this lesson.  Help me to obey You in all Your commands, because they are there to protect me, keep me safe and make me more like you.  Help me to accept your loving discipline when I mess up and to keep my promise when I say I will “never, never do it again”.

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