Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grounded! - Belec

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Romans 5:19

Being a parent demands the ingenuity of a clinical psychologist combined with the patience of a saint. I am the first to admit that my own halo required an adjustment periodically.
All the psychology texts and childcare manuals in the world could not aptly predict the mind of my daughter when she was a precarious preschooler.

Amanda was four years old. The acquisition of a wonderful ever-expanding vocabulary coupled with the assertion of her independence had given her a whole new outlook on life.
She was catching on. She discovered it was not always necessary to hold mother’s sweaty hand each time she left the house. Mother had tricked her. She did not blow away after all.
Difficult as it seemed at the time, I had to start giving her a little slack. Friends would come to call – sometimes great big five year olds.
“Please, mommy, please can I go over and play in David’s yard? Please?”

I could not persist in denying her the opportunity to fellowship. She needed friends, I convinced myself. The time had come to allow her the freedom to go play in David’s back yard.
Things went well for a while. Then, one day, she decided to put me to the test.

Amanda had been playing two doors down with David. It was time for her to come home. She had not arrived so I stepped outside to attract her attention. I called - just a gentle reminder. She tossed a fleeting glance my way and uttered something about “…in a little while.” I called again. The sweetness in my voice was dissipating rapidly.

Her refusal to acknowledge my request to come home ignited my wrath ever so slightly. I kept my cool, though. Her disobedience persisted.
I marched over to where she was playing and scooped her out of the sandbox, ignoring her protests. David quickly disappeared. Finally, she realized I meant business, and she calmed down.

“I’m sorry, Amanda,” I announced, “but I am going to have to ground you for the rest of the day.” She inhaled deeply and held her breath.

Suddenly, fearful screams echoed throughout the quiet neighborhood and the tears began to fall as I hustled her home. “Aha!” I thought. I had found a punishment that really works.
There was something wrong, though. Amanda’s cries escalated. She sounded terrified. I began to feel dreadful. I knew she liked playing with her friends but why was she making such a fuss, I wondered?

I could not stand it any longer. I took Amanda into my arms and hugged her.
“Whatever is wrong?”
I rocked my little girl as if she was an infant. In-between hysterical sobs and a runny nose I found out what had caused the traumatic outburst.

Amanda’s concept of my new disciplinary tactic – grounded – was unfortunately quite literal. As I had sternly announced to her that she was grounded, she envisioned herself being buried between the carrots and the potatoes. How would she ever breathe? What about the worms? She hated worms. I had dished out a punishment that I had deemed appropriate, assuming she knew what I meant. Eventually she calmed down and I was able to cast a different light on the term, grounded.

As I reflect on my daughter’s disobedience, I think about the many times God has carried me kicking and screaming out of a situation. On more than one occasion He has grounded me and made me think twice about a foolish decision or a thoughtless comment I have made.

What did I learn through it all? I have learned that God is compassion and grace. He is understanding, merciful and patient – a perfect parent. I was not.
God grounding is therapeutic. It causes me to reflect. It forces me to listen to that still small voice that tells me to quit procrastinating and send that card, make that telephone call, pay that visit. It urges me to be still, and know that He is God.


Peter Black said...

Lovely to read this edition of "Gleanings from Glynis."
As fun and thought-provoking as ever!
"Be still and know ..." Oh yes, not easy for this guy, but essential, just the same.

Glynis said...

Thanks, Peter. I like that - Gleanings from Glynis! You are such an encourager - a true pastor in every sense of the word!

N. J. Lindquist said...

Enjoyed this one very much. :)

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