Loving Discipline

DISCIPLINE

training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character

(Merriam-Webster)

Discipline is not a word that conjures up many warm fuzzy images. Having been on the receiving end of it many times (my parents would probably add several “many’s”) over my life, it was not something I welcomed. I have never been good about being willing to be corrected or molded. I want things the way I think they should be.

In Isaiah 64, Isaiah acknowledged that the Lord is the potter and we are mere clay in his hands. If you have ever watched a potter’s hands go while they work the wheel, it is with precision. The pressure to certain areas of the clay yields specific shapes. It is not a passive act. Each motion is deliberate to produce the final, perfected product.

And, yet, much of my life has been spent unyielding to the pressure of the potter. Although, I roughly had the knowledge of a lump of clay, I was willing to tell my potter exactly what he should do to mold me into what I wanted to be.

Until the age of 22, I had only very minor, ordinary hiccups on the road of life. For the most part, life went where I wanted it to go. At age 22, I found out it was likely I would never naturally conceive a child. I pleaded. I begged. I pushed my potter away. If he was unwilling to make my life what I wanted it to be, I did not want him to touch me. I could not understand why he would impact my life the way he was.

For several years, we went through the ups and downs of trying for a family. To be honest, it was mainly just downs. When a person is repeatedly failing at trying to have a child, there really is not much besides crushed hope. All my life, I had had a strong desire to become a mother. None of what I was going through made sense. Why this urge and, yet, all this heartache?

I would alternate between drawing close to God and pushing him away. On one hand, I wanted the comfort of his love and the promises of his word, but on the other, I was too conflicted as to why he would put this obstacle in my life.

And, then, it hit. I don’t remember exactly why I was studying Hebrews, but reading Hebrews 12 was a life-changing moment for me.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:7-11

“Endure hardship as discipline.” Certainly, I was enduring hardship, but it had never occurred to me that it could be God disciplining me and that this discipline was actually a product of his love. I remembered my earthly father and his goals in the discipline he handed down to me. I had grown up enough to recognize the love that was behind his acts. They were not meant to be an oppressive force on my nature, but to mold my nature into being the best person I could be.

I respected my father for all that he had done and recognized that he did it out of a love for what was best for me. How much more so was my heavenly Father doing it with the perfect love he had for me?

I yielded. I stopped fighting so hard. I allowed for the circumstances of my life to just be. I stopped asking for answers. I realized in his perfect holiness, my heavenly Father owed me no explanations. It was up to me to learn to trust in his discipline and learn from what I was experiencing.

In 2011, my husband and I were blessed beyond measure when our son was added to our life. In 2013, we got the icing on the cake with adopting our daughter. At the time, I thought I knew what all of God’s discipline was for. In those moments when I saw our children for the first time, I knew the reason I was never able to get pregnant was that these children were the ones meant for us. This was the path of life God had planned for me.

Seven years later, I have learned it is so much more. Adopting our children was not the endpoint of our journey, just part of the road we are on.

The older I get, the more I realize how little I understand God’s will for my life. Although I now recognize how far I have to go, I see how my heavenly Father’s discipline has increased my knowledge. I have grown to love what I have been through and know that tough moments teach me so much about myself and the world around me. The difficult things that I have been through have shaped me.

I no longer look for reasons for what is happening. I look for opportunities. How can I use what I have experienced to make this world a better place? At times, I share my story. Sometimes, I am just a listening ear for someone who needs to know someone else “gets it.” Other times, I get to encourage someone who is walking a path similar to mine.

When I stopped fighting my potter, I stopped yearning to be a specific thing. I no longer care if I am a cup or plate or pitcher. I am God’s. I am His to use in whatever capacity He has planned for my life.

“Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge…” (Proverbs 12:1). I love where God’s discipline has taken me. I love the knowledge I have gained. And, more than anything, I love the peace that comes with being willing to be disciplined however God sees fit. No more fighting. Just peace.

As always if you have ideas, questions or comments you can e-mail me at TheRefreshingWell@gmail.com.

Mandy

 

 

 

 

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