The hardest part of dealing with kiddos is that there are times when they just push, push, push the boundaries of every single thing. Whether it’s eating what’s on their plate, or denying something you saw them do, at some point every child goes through a phase in which she test the limits.

Toddlers will look straight at you and reach out to touch something you have told them not to touch. They are a curious lot, these little people, and they will try your patience just to see how strong your resolve is.

It doesn’t change when they grow a little either, children and even grown adults will continue to test the boundaries whether it’s ones set by or those of the family. There are those among us that embrace the chaos and are driven to walk the line between right and wrong.

And there will always be a line between what you want and what you can have, and for me as a parent that has been struggling through setting boundaries for kids that like to walk the line. I find myself thinking a lot about the grace and patience that the Lord gives to us, his children.

God loves us regardless of what we do. We are born into a world of sin and yet we were made in the image of God. The bible tells us that when God created Adam, he formed him, yet he spoke everything else into existence. He was hands-on in creating man in his likeness, knowing that we would forsake him and succumb to the sins of the world. Yet he loved us still.

We are called to love like God loves us. It’s really simple isn’t it? We are to love others like God loves us.

That means that there is a difference between discipline and punishment.

Kids know the right thing to do, but it’s hard, and often they wonder if it’s worth the effort to try. It’s so much easier to fit into the world, do things the easy way.

Discipline is how the Father grooms us. The Lord disciplines us for own good, he is seeking to build us through the missteps of our trials.

Hebrews 12:11 tells us “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” We are shown love in the time and effort it takes for correction. There will be times when we need that correction, that discipline. And we will be better for it.

Setting boundaries through discipline is how we learn to stay within the loving boundaries that God has set for us. It’s not because God doesn’t want us to have a good life, it’s not because he wants to deny us the joys of life, it’s because he knows better. He knows that we are called to live in a world but not of that world. We are expected to love others.

When we are left to our very own devices, decisions based on the impulse of our self, we live in a world of “whatever works for me right now.” We learn the hard way that our choices can leave us with long-term consequences. Our relationships are built on sand with no foundations. We will fight debt and the lack of money when we need it most. We will struggle to find words of wisdom as we surround ourselves with people of the world, not of the Word.

Yet even in the midst of our pushing, our rebellion, our testing of boundaries, he is there. God is there loving us in the midst. He is that quiet whisper in the back of our minds whenever things are going wrong. Just as the parents of a toddler is there, loving and guiding you with discipline through the journey.

God doesn’t punish us. He disciplines us to bring us back to the path of righteousness but he never sets out to punish us in our time of need. Just as parents should discipline not punish, he has set us a clear example of how to guide those who are growing in our care.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.