When I was little, my mother would buy each of my sisters and me a pair of brown, leather sandals every year. She would caution us to take care of them so that they would last the summer. They had thick, yellow, rubber soles and brass buckles on the side. For some reason, we hated them. I don’t remember reaching this opinion on my own, so I’m guessing I was convinced of their utter ugliness by my older sister.
Not satisfied with only corrupting our opinions of the leather sandals, she also convinced us to methodically destroy them. Behind our house, along the property line where our backyard met our neighbor’s backyard, there was a ditch. When we received very much rain, this ditch would become a shallow creek of grass and muddy water. When it was high enough to cover our feet, my sister would instruct us to put on our sandals and wade out into the water.
Her diabolical plan was to get the sandals wet enough that they would fall apart and it would all look like a harmless accident. (Everyone needs an older sister like this.)
So we would do it and over time, our sandals would fall apart. I can’t remember what shoes we wore after that or how my mom reacted to the news, most likely completely frustrated since she was trying to make ends meet on a preacher’s salary with three young kids. What I do remember is the feeling of standing in the ditch with those wretched sandals on. I felt a mixture of guilt and delight as I wriggled my toes and felt the cushion of the insole fill up with water.
Why does disobedience often feel good at the time? I knew I was disobeying my mother when I blatantly disregarded her instructions and didn’t take care of my sandals but I did it anyway. The knowledge of my disobedience didn’t stop me, and in some it ways it was actually thrilling.
Now that I’m the mom correcting the disobedience of my own children, I have a new seat to watch this disregard of carefully spelled out instructions. I must sometimes witness their disobedience and deliver consequences for their actions. As the parent, I have more information and experience to back up the instructions I give my children—information and experience they don’t always feel justifies my right to correct them, but in the immortal words of my sister, “Tough noogies.”
We can identify with King Solomon when he wrote in the Book of Proverbs: “At the end of your life, you will be sad that you ruined your health and lost everything you had. Then you will say, ‘Why didn’t I listen to my parents? Why didn’t I pay attention to my teachers? I didn’t want to be disciplined. I refused to be corrected. So now I have suffered through just about every kind of trouble anyone can have, and everyone knows it.’” Perspective.
Obedience doesn’t always come naturally, even for wise kings, but the consequences aren’t far behind. I discipline my children because I love them and I have to cultivate a trust in my Lord who also disciplines out of love and wants to me to be obedient, even when I can’t see it from His perspective.