Even though I have recently opted to order my groceries online from Walmart, thus avoiding the dreaded weekly grocery shopping trip (this is Ah-mazing!) I still find myself, on occasion, inside the store. I do try very hard to avoid these in-store visits as I am not a fan of the Walmart environment, generally speaking. If you are unsure to what I am referencing, a quick tour of the Facebook group, “People of Walmart”, will enlighten you.
Yet as I mentioned, I did find myself inside the store recently. I had not been there too long before I heard the familiar exchange between the non-compliant child and the desperate mom. I’m not sure exactly what the story was because the pair was on the next aisle up from me, but the volume of the exchange was such that I could hear it clearly, and imagine for myself.
Mom: “Stop it, Jackson. I said no.”
Mom: “Stop it, Jackson, or I’m going to put your toy back.”
Child: Increased wailing
Mom: “Stop it, Jackson, or I’m going to put your toy back and you will get a spanking. I said no.”
Child: More wailing
I’d like to say this interchange ended promptly with Jackson stopping it, retaining his toy, and avoiding a spanking. But it did not end, and yet he still kept the toy, and as far as I could tell, did not suffer a spanking.
Mostly, I was just thankful to be past all that with my kids. If my grown kids are with me at Walmart crying over a toy and I am threatening to spank them, I have bigger problems to deal with.
I will say that I was tempted to walk around the corner, go up the next aisle, take Jackson’s toy and whack him on the tush… hug his momma, offer to buy her a coffee, and give her some free advice. Clearly she needed to grow a little bit of a backbone with this little man.
But I understand.
Parenting is hard. No parent wants to take from a child. We are hardwired by our heavenly Father to give to our children. Matthew 7 says,
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
So taking from them just does not often compute. Still, that young Walmart momma could learn a bit from the Lord as He parented the willful children of Israel.
God laid out for the people of Israel how the relationship with Him was going to go. By way of summary, in Deuteronomy 30, He tells them, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” God had given them the parameters, actions that would bring blessings to them and actions that would bring curses. He was very clear, but God has a heart.
So often the nation of Israel would go its own way, and through the prophets God would remind them of their covenant with Him. He would remind them of the curses that would befall them if they did not change their ways and submit their lives to Him alone. He was not unlike that young mother in Walmart, pleading again and again for His children to choose life!
Why? Because like that young mother, God understood better the ramifications of disobedience. While Israel could not fully understand the consequences that would befall them, God did. He could see what they could not. Yet so often, their willful disobedience left Him no choice but to hand down the curses He had promised.
It was important for God to follow through for two reasons. First, to not follow through would make Him a liar. Could a God who did not hand down promised consequences, then be trusted to also hand out promised blessing? Second, God had a plan for His people and their descendants. From the tribe of Judah would one day come the Savior of the world. There was a bigger picture that the children of Israel could not see.
That’s the free advice I would give that little momma in Walmart. I know she was tired. That wailing boy was a handful, but she was dangerously close to losing her credibility with him. I understand why she didn’t want to follow through with her promises of punishment, but she needed to understand why it was important that she did. And there is a bigger picture to consider than one toy in the middle of Walmart. It is a picture of a life in the making, a character to be shaped, and a future man of integrity to be raised.
Yep. Parenting is hard. And for all my young momma friends, hang in there. Stick to your guns. Be steadfast in your love for your little ones, even if you have to follow through on promised consequences. After all, that’s loving them, too.