An Early Lesson In Grace
Over our Christmas/New Years holiday we put a few things down in our calendar that we wanted to do with the kids: watch some Disney movies, go to a local indoor playplace, and use a giftcard that we had for Coldstone. Disney movies are cute and all, and those indoor bouncy places are great for wearing down the munchkins, but the ice cream was what I was personally looking forward to. I mean, who doesn’t love French Vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, cookie dough, fudge, and caramel all mixed together in heavenly goodness? Needless to say, I was looking forward to it.
Our plan was to head out after dinner, so we began our evening in the same fashion as we always did. Our kids eat everything, so we weren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary before heading out for our family-date. But something happened: our 3-yr old would not eat her food. We aren’t ones to force feed, or assist her with the fork, simply because we know that she can feed herself. And when she didn’t want to touch her food we knew that some discipline needed to be involved.
We tried being patient and affording her a little extra time to eat her dinner. We tried a couple discipline methods like moving her food away for a few minutes so she could refocus, but we were stuck in the same spot. In my head I’m saying, “Just eat your food, so we can go to Coldstone!” But there we were, much later than we hoped for, and she had only eaten a fraction of what we wanted her to eat (our 19 mo ate 3 helpings!). What do we do? Follow through with what we said (no ice cream) or “give in” and potentially encourage behavior like this (where we knew that she knew that she was being disobedient)?
We opted for option 3. After dinner, I pulled her aside and explained the situation. Jen and I both realized that we could use this as a mini-grace lesson in her life. Even in a small example as this one, we were reminded of the grace that our Father gives to us each and every day. In that moment, we knew that our daughter realized her error, yet her heart was still hard (she did not want to obey/eat). But the bigger idea we wanted to communicate was that God extends grace to us everyday and we wanted to show grace to her in this situation. We believe that in the moments of discipline or hard-heartedness, our hearts can be softened by the revelation of the grace our Father. So, when I pulled her aside and talked through the situation, I did my best to communicate that.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
Is it too early to talk about this stuff when she may not fully grasp what we were trying to communicate? Maybe. But in the end, our hope that these seeds take root early in her life even though we may not see the fruit of them until later in her life. And, yes – we enjoyed the family ice cream date!
Photo credit: Ultrateg