Heather's Story...

recently i received an email from a dear friend in which he stated that the bible clearly teaches we must scourge our children. 

there are many arguments out there, for and against, i’ve read some of both. and i encourage you to read them, do some searching. God speaks to us, if we are willing to listen, if we do not confine our thinking to the rigid lines drawn by people, by ourselves.

ultimately, what i have on my side, and on my conscience, is my experience. as a wise college professor once told me, “share your experience, no one can argue that.” so here is a bit of my journey….

when forrest (my first born) was a toddler, i was given a book from a Christian whom i trusted and respected. the book was _shepherding a child’s heart_ by tedd tripp. i read it and immediately began applying its (tedd’s) principles (because i thought i should), principles such as: expect instant obedience; spank if there’s not instant obedience. those are two i remember most clearly. and i also remember he made it clear that God expects parents to “discipline” little ones this ways; if we don’t, we’re disobeying Him.

so i told little 2 year old forrest, “when i call you, if you don’t come, i will spank you.” and of course, he didn’t come; so i spanked. as i continued to read tripp’s book, i felt more and more unsettled with his teachings. and spanking never felt right (that was the Holy Spirit). mostly, as i look back, the only “rightness” i felt was that i was doing what supposedly God says, and what everyone else (whoever that may be) expected me to do. by the time i finished the book, it turned my stomach so much that i pitched it (now i wish i would’ve kept it as a resource). i still spanked on rare occasions; i wasn’t yet convinced it was ok not to…but that still small voice was still speaking.

another turning point (although not yet a full 180) was hearing a friend, karen campbell, speak. her daughter mollie encouraged me to go, and that’s why i did (i’m not a retreat sort of person—i don’t like sitting; plus i and a three year old and a one year old, both of whom nursed, and i didn’t care to leave them—even though i knew they’d be fine with neil, and they were). i don’t remember many details, but i remember she talked about the one-anothers in the bible—and that those all applied to our children and our relationships with them. and i had never heard or thought of them that way.

i’d always heard/seen children children and parents placed on tiers, and thought of them almost as different sorts of animals (which in some ways they, we are), as outside the realms of “normal” behavioral, relational patterns and expectations…and hearing this, i began to see children, my children, as “my neighbors.” “love your neighbor as yourself”—the ultimate one-another….and i thought, how does hitting them (because that is what spanking is) fit into that? so after her talk, i went up to her and said, “it sure seems like you’re saying spanking doesn’t fit into the one-anothers” and she said “then you heard me right.”

i asked her what book(s) she recommended. i don’t remember if there were more than one, but i ended up reading _heartfelt discipline_ by clay clarkson, and in it was an exegesis of those passages that many christians have used to proclaim that spanking required by God—and mr. clarkson came up with quite a different conclusion.

and basically, i came away seeing that the bible really contains little explicit instructions regarding parenting and discipline….the Holy Spirit had led me to karen and to clay, who had taken me a bit further down the path away from spanking.

and from that point on it was just a continued journey down that path as the Holy spirit worked in my heart, and showed me through my children and Jesus’ teachings and God’s character and others’ wisdom just exactly what spanking really is—hitting.

and eventually, i can’t tell exactly when, there was no more traveling down a path; there was a closed door. and a complete paradigm shift. and this is where i am: these children are precious gifts from God. they are His children, just as much as we adults are. and they are not only my children, but my sister and my brothers. being their mother is a privilege. what an honor to be able to show them God’s love. just as God desires a relationship and unity with us, so do i with my little ones….and hitting has no place in that.