Devotional Stories for Mothers

Gold Medals and Tea KettlesR5

Terrie Todd

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

—Proverbs 22:15

It was 12:30 a.m., and my seventeen-year-old daughter was not home. On a school night. I sat huddled beside my kitchen stove, drinking tea, reading a book, and trying not to worry on this chilly autumn night. At 1:00, she walked in the back door without excuses, and I grounded her for missing her curfew. The next day, I received a card from her with a long, handwritten note inside. My mind immediately went back three or four years to similar times when I'd received scathing, defensive notes pleading her case and telling me how unfair I was.

"Not this again," I thought. "I'm not sure I'm up to it." I took a deep breath, prayed a quick prayer, and read. What unfolded before my eyes turned out to be an absolute treasure! I couldn't have been prouder if they'd hung an Olympic gold medal around my neck. Among other things, she'd written:

"I sincerely regret it. And I'm not just saying I regret being caught, either. I regret scaring you, and I regret being so foolish. So, I sincerely apologize for disobeying you and for any unnecessary stress that I caused, and I ask for your forgiveness  ...  I respect your grounding me, too. I know discipline isn't exactly the easiest part of raising kids, and I'm sorry for making you do that. I love you."

She even closed with a slightly revised Bible verse: "Raise your child in the way she should go, and when she is old, she will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Wow! It couldn't get any better than that. I realized she was really growing up, and I loved the young woman she was turning out to be.

Over the years, through the pleading, prayers and tears, I have often been granted a new picture of God. Always the perfect parent, He chose to give us our own free will, even though He could have simply programmed us to obey. I think I'm beginning to understand why. I can no sooner "make" my children obey than I can make them fly. I can make my expectations known and put consequences in place, but the rest is up to them. When they choose to respond in the way that every parent hopes they will, the thrill of victory vastly outweighs the agony of defeat. May that understanding motivate me to obey my Heavenly Father quickly and to run to Him with regret when I've blown it.

I know that neither my daughter nor I have "arrived" yet. We are two very imperfect human beings with selfish hearts and stubborn tendencies. But for today, I'll clutch her letter to my heart like a gold medal around my neck. And when someone asks, "Is it worth it?" I'll respond with a resounding "Yes!"

(496 words)