My little guy is 16 months old, but from all appearances he has officially entered the terrible twos.
As an avid "people-watcher" I find the whole experience completely fascinating albeit irritating at times. Watching him test his world, his mommy, and his boundaries is such a growing experience for me as a parent because it gives me newfound respect for both my parents and my God. It has caused me to be more intentional with what I say and how I follow through on my words and it has caused me to be more consistent with the boundaries that I set for him.
The first time that I put him in 'time out' (one minute in the corner) he thought it was a game and kept looking back to see if I was still watching and if I would make him stay there. By the third or fourth time he had stopped looking back to see if I was there and just whimpered, bottom lip sticking out, and big ol' crocodile tears streaming down his face until I told him he could get up. Then his morning he did something he knew he shouldn't do (hit the dog) and looked at me to see if I had witnessed what he had done. When we made eye contact I said, "Do you want to sit in time out?" and his eyes grew like saucers as he said emphatically, "No, mama" and raised his chubby arms for me to hold him.
I am not naïve; I know that the boundary testing has only begun, but I also know that my consistency will not only teach him about obedience and respect but also about a God who will never give up on him. The boundaries that I set and enforce will be just as influential to his spiritual development as the middle of the night hugs after he has had a bad dream. I know that as painful as it is to watch my little guy cry because I told him "no" it is nothing compared to the pain that I cause God every time I sin and that the pain he is feeling is formative and important to his development.
Being a parent makes me see my relationship with God in a new light; it causes me to think about the pains I have experienced and will continue to experience in my life and what purpose they have for my spiritual formation. What lesson is he teaching me or allowing me to learn?
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 our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, 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.