So there I was. A mom of five with only one I had ever seen smile. That youngest one was just a few months old. And God had already taught me through him that He answers prayer, that He loves me a lot, that He parents me in that deep, attached love, and that my loyalty to evangelical ideologies can unfortunately skew my judgment.
But God wasn’t done. ::cue ominous music::
I would often sit and read while nursing that lil’ bundle, and my curiosity got the best of me one day. I thought, “Okay. An Ezzo mom I am not. Why not venture over to the critics of Ezzo and see what they are up to?” These were the people I had consciously avoided in 1999 for my research. A few weeks earlier in Isaac’s life when Ezzo’s prescribed “routine” was failing us, I had tried to find an Ezzo support group, but there were none online. None!
Wow. What I found among the Ezzo critics were not rabid, ugly-spirited, vitriolic bullies. I found godly ladies — kind but firm, gentle and persuasive, logical and fair. I actually, in all my years of studying argumentation, had never seen such skill. These women were gooood. I am blessed to still call these Christian sisters among my closest friends. They are gems.
Let me brag on Laurie for a second. I met her only because of my project for Orsi’s class, but I did know some of her extended family (everybody knows SOMEbody you’re related to in the BJU “family”). And I was really impressed. I thought, “Wow — I hope I can be a mom like Laurie some day.” She was a fellow alum from my alma mater, she was loving and fair with her kids, smart and well-spoken. When I talked to her in 1999, she was studying to be a lactation consultant for Growing Families International, Ezzo’s parenting business, so she knew her stuff!!
When everything Ezzo was failing me and my son, I thought briefly about Laurie. It worked for her, I told myself, but it wasn’t working for me at all. ::shrug::
But there was her name on the Ezzo timeline as having left GFI. Hmm. Must have been quite an exodus for her. So now she and I both were ex-Ezzoites. Hmmm. . . . interesting.
I sought her out online. And once again, God had gone ahead of me. Laurie’s friendship, her exodus, and her careful exegesis of Scripture — God would use all of that to push us down a road I could have never imagined.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I printed it out and carried it around in my purse for weeks.
When we realized that our Isaac was going to be a keeper (just after we had discovered that he was an “Isaac” at 20 weeks in my tummy), I prayed for guidance about how to raise him. The BJU Inservice that semester focused on family issues, and I submitted a few questions to the “gurus” about how to raise this blessing. I got a book recommendation and some generalized responses. But I still wasn’t satisfied. My parents were terrific, but we had chosen a different sort of ministry for our family. How did God want our parenting to look?
I had finally found the answer from my old friend, Laurie. It sounds like a small step now, but it was a huge pivot for us. Through Laurie’s study, the Holy Spirit proved to me that — contrary to every sermon I’d heard and book I’d read on parenting — the Bible never commands parents to spank their children.
Read that carefully. I’m not saying that the Bible forbids spanking. I’m not saying that those who choose differently from me are disobeying Scripture. I’m not saying anything more than the very small statement: spanking is not biblically mandated.
That was a hard pill to swallow. It was so . . . radical. I begged God to move me away from that conclusion. He pushed me further toward it. I read Clay Clarkson’s Heartfelt Discipline (who, in his conservative hermeneutic, also set out to prove that the typical evangelical parenting advice was biblical but was then persuaded from Scripture that the exact opposite is true) and was finally convinced — this was my answer to prayer that I’d prayed when Isaac was still in my tummy. This is how God wanted me to mother this precious bundle.
I don’t expect you who are reading to agree with me. I’m okay with that. I’m actually pretty used to it. I think the best response we ever got to our family’s prayerful and counter-cultural decision was from a dear friend who, although he strongly disagreed with us, very kindly said, “We haven’t found that to be true for our family.” And for that gracious response, he will always have my respect and admiration.
So our children have never been spanked or hit or even, to be honest, punished. The oldest is only four, I understand. We have only two, I admit. And of course, they are far from perfect. But they, like their parents, get forgiveness for sin not from a purgative pain, but through the same Person and His gracious sacrifice. We are, in God’s grace, trying to parent these charges just like God parents us — loving and teaching and correcting and always pointing to Christ.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
[tags]Gary Ezzo, Grace-Based Parenting, Laurie Moody, William Sears, Positive Discipline[/tags]