My second labor experience was my worst. My son was 11 pounds and he was sunny-side up. Going on hour 25 I remember thinking, “This will never end. I will be in labor forever.” That was, of course, a ridiculous thought. But the pain made me lose perspective. I wanted to hold that sweet baby in my arms, but I couldn’t see past the painful work in front of me. I wanted to reap, but I didn’t want to sow.
That’s often how I approach discipline as well. I want the benefits of well-behaved kids, but I forget how much work it takes to get there. I get impatient when my discipline doesn’t pay off right away. I teach my little ones all day long about kindness, self-control, and good manners. The next day I wake up to find that I have to do it all over again. Where is the harvest? When do I get to see the fruits of my labor? When I get to the end of one row of soil, there’s another one. And another and another. There is the promise of fruit, but some days all I can see is endless sowing.
A couple months ago I went to visit an old high school friend. Her kids are all about five years older than mine. As I shuffled my hoard of boys into her house I immediately noticed her kids’ behavior. They smiled at my boys, took them by the hand, and lovingly let them play with all of their toys. They answered their silly questions with patience and got them drinks of water. They entertained my kids while my friend and I talked. I asked her point blank – “How did you do that?” She smiled, knowingly. “It takes a lot of work. It takes days and days of practice. But it pays off.”
I saw in my friend a glimmer of hope for my future. Right now I am still on my hands and knees in the soil, planting, planting, planting. I’m disciplining for the same things day in and day out. I’m a broken record of godly character traits and gospel truth. My friend is still planting, too, but her crop is a few years further along than mine. The little green shoots are dotting the soil and every once in awhile she stoops to pick the first sweet fruit of the harvest.