A MOMENT OF DEJA VU

I have always loved the book of Proverbs. The simplicity of thought, and the depth of wisdom are a powerful combination. I am grateful for the wisdom of Solomon being packaged so that someone like me, with a standard measure of wisdom (granted this may be a generous estimation) can gain insight on life’s daily challenges. As a parent, I have gained an even greater appreciation for these nuggets of truth, and how they can be applied within the home. For example, “Do not withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with a rod and you will rescue his life from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:13-14 CSB)
            It is often quipped that each of us will experience a day when we realize we have become our parents, but I could not have foreseen how powerfully that truth would come home for me. You see, I wasn’t exactly a bad child growing up, at least not in my own estimation, but I did experience some of the rebellious urges that all children go through. On the tail end of those urges, I experienced the powerful effect of discipline to my tail end. My parents are firm believers in the need for – end effectiveness of – the good-old-fashioned spanking. More importantly though, they believe in the importance of doing the spanking right…
            It is amazing the effectiveness of a small, well-shaped section of timber, when applied with good technique to the rump of a scoundrel. There is a rare combination of stinging, ear-ringing and rapid healing, that leaves behind no bruise or permanent damage, but rather a very distinct mental note to avoid certain behaviors in the future. Thus, the truth that “if you punish him with a rod, he will not die.” I can honestly say that, despite my temporary fear of not being able to sit down for the next week, I always got over the pain within 30 minutes. But the lesson stuck with me for far longer than that. An even greater lesson came after the spanking though, in the form of my parents telling me that they disciplined me because they loved me. In the moment, it was hard to reconcile how this could be love, but looking back, I came to understand what this means: “Punish him with a rod and you will rescue his life from Sheol.” My parents were concerned about me learning obedience to God and to them, because that would prepare me to live obediently long after I was beyond spanking (though I dare not tell mom she can’t spank me anymore).
            Then came the day when I realized I was becoming my parents. The day I had to look into the rebellious eyes of my own son, Caleb, and explain to him that the reason I had to discipline him was because I love him and because, as his parent, its my job to help him learn obedience to God and to us. It was one of the hardest moments I have faced as a dad. I did not want to become the bad guy to my best bud, but I knew it needed to be done. As the words came out of my mouth, I felt both overwhelming déjà vu, and incredible gratitude for parents that had taught me how to do this well.

by Ben Urban

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