Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Load Of Corn

When I was pregnant with our first child, Rob and I began to learn the importance of spoken words.  We discovered if you tell a child to get down off a stool because “you’re going to fall!”, the kid just might believe you and fall.  Or if you always tell your kid, “you’ll never amount to anything”, he probably won’t.  He could have amounted to something, but instead he believed his parents.  

Parents aren’t always prophetic—sometimes kids just obey commands.
Following that vein, we decided we would never tell our future kids that they were bad or good based on their behavior.  We would tell them they “did a bad thing”—or a great thing—and correct their choices, but we would do our best not to identify them with their behavior.  We were determined to teach them how much God loves them because God loves people, and skip the performance traps of both human nature and, sadly, a lot of pathetic theology.
Enter that poor first kid—the one parents always practice on.  Our son is the first child of two first children, which explains, in part, why we were determined to perfectly teach our kid he didn’t have to be perfect.  Right.  We told him there were consequences for his decisions, but kind of missed the memo where you need to emphasize both good and bad consequences.
Our two-year-old boy burst into the kitchen one morning, full of gratitude and big news.
“Mommy!” he yelled.  “I ran out into the street when Daddy told me not to, but he didn’t consequence on me!” 
The thing I’ve learned about consequences is this—they occur as a direct result of my choices.  It’s a lot like farming.  I’ve been told.  I don’t actually know how to keep a houseplant alive, but that, too, is a result of my choices.  If I’d just bought a fake one to begin with, I wouldn’t be throwing a perfectly good, but dead, begonia in the trash. 
When a farmer sows corn seed, he knows that, with sun and rain and good soil, somewhere down the road he’ll harvest corn.  A lot of corn with a lot more seed to sow a lot more corn.  He will not harvest tomatoes, no matter how much he loves tomatoes and no matter how much he wishes and hopes for tomatoes.  He will reap exactly what he sows, much later than he sows, and a lot more than he sows.
It’s the natural law of sowing and reaping.  I can choose to be merciful to my kid and overlook a bad choice.  But if I continue to do that without correcting him, I’m pretty much raining sunshine and fertile soil on a future of bad decision making on his part, all with the watering pot of my approval.
I have been shown mercy more times than I can count in my life.  It feels like I’ve been corrected more times than that.  But I am ever aware that my decisions have consequences—good or bad—and that I am the sower of my own field.  The confusing thing to most of us is that we forget that reaping comes much later than sowing with a greater harvest than a tiny little seed.

And if we’ve been sowing some bad stuff, the harvest is going to pretty much suck.
Life lesson for this week: people can forgive, mercy can fall, but a seed sown is a crop you will harvest.
It’s just the law of sowing and reaping.

(Photo courtesy of Wattpublishing's photostream at Flickr.com)


  1. Hi, nice words of wisdom. In today's world, so much is immediate gratification without thinking about the consequence of later from our actions of today/now. Hopefully more and more of us will remember to think that what we do now does have an impact on the future.

    1. Hi, Colleen, consequences are tricky things. I hope I take my own advice on this one! Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope to hear from you again!

  2. Unless you're a subsidized farmer. Then you don't have to sow at all and you'll still reap all kinds of money from the government. You have to be a big farm though. We wouldn't want to support small family farms....

    Good post, even though it did send me off on a completely unrelated rant...

    1. Wow. That really was a rant! :) You never disappoint with fun comments, though. Thanks!

  3. Darn that waiting period! That's where I find the issue. I'm not a patient person. So, waiting for the good crops to come seems like forever! I'm also a forgetful person, so when the full on butt kicking harvest arrives, I sometimes have difficulty correlating that with my previous actions of dubious nature.

    1. I love that you pointed out that good things come in time with their own harvest, too - see? Once again, I left the focus on the negative consequences! Nice response!!

  4. I do my best to choose my words when setting my daughter straight. She rarely does so called bad things though. My husband is another matter, he was on the same idea before we had her, but now he yells at her, as if he thinks that'll get her to listen. Explanations are better than scaring them into submission and making them cry. But kids do need boundaries. I've seen two generations of other people's kids growing up virtually without, and they're causing a lot of trouble.

    1. I'm a firm believer in boundaries, too, Linda. I've learned more about them since becoming an adult, especially in terms of healthy relationships with other people. I grew up in a home with parents who had short tempers and where I was afraid to make mistakes. As much as I wanted my kids to be confident and not equate their personal worth with their behavior, I know I struggled to allow them to fail sometimes and suffer natural consequences without making them feel like failures themselves. Parenting really is the hardest job in the world. I appreciate your comments, and send you encouragement as you raise your daughter.