A small battle broke out in the Bradshaw house on Sunday. Caly refused to eat a bite of her toast. No, I didn’t say peas or green beans. We went to war over jelly toast.
I knew from experience I might be in for a long wait before she’d take the mandatory bite. That’s okay. I was ready. I was going to win.
Or was I?
As the clocked ticked on, temptation grew stronger. Anger and impatience began to characterize my speech. After an hour I lay my head down on the table and cried. Will she ever eat this bite? Will she ever obey? Will we ever see any fruit from our parenting? My heart was full of despair and unbelief.
I’m not the first mom to face the challenge of a disobedient child. In the introduction to Elisabeth Elliot’s book The Shaping of a Christian Family she reprints an article by her mom recounting a similar battle with her firstborn son, Phillip. It was milk instead of jelly toast, but Mom patiently waited and insisted on full obedience. Phil eventually drank his milk.
Years later he wrote a letter to his parents thanking them for teaching him to obey. It worked! By the grace of God, their consistent discipline bore fruit! As a grown man, their son was grateful for all the benefits of their faithful correction. What a perfect illustration of Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Back in the Bradshaw kitchen, God did give me grace to repent from my anger, unbelief and despair and persevere in training my daughter. After two hours Caly ate her toast and there was much rejoicing in our kitchen. It’s not the last of our battles and probably not the last of my sinful anger and unbelief. But I pray it will be another reminder of my need to trust in the Lord and diligently train my little ones in the way they should go—so that when they are old, they will not depart from it.