The video has gone viral. Toya Graham was watching the rioting in Baltimore on television when she saw her son. He was in the crowd that was throwing rocks and shouting at the police. She slipped quickly into “Mom-mode” and the video told the world what she thought of her son’s actions.
Toya began screaming at her son, 16, dressed from head to toe in black and said, “take the mask off.” She told him to “get over here” grabbed his shirt and began slapping him. The angry mom told reporters: “At that point, I just lost it. I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.” Graham is a single mom with six kids. She says, “I’m a no-tolerant mother. Everybody that knows me, know I don’t play that.”
ABC has a program What Would You Do that recently aired a segment about moms who force their children to wear a sandwich board, displaying their “sin,” in public. The show created a discussion about whether it was right to publicly shame a child. The most interesting part of the program to me was the mom who talked about having to worry her child would be in jail if he didn’t change.
I think one of the most powerful forces in this world is the “Mom-mode.” The most dangerous animals in the wild are the females, protecting their young. A blue jay flew at my 6-foot tall son one day because he wanted to peek into her nest and see the hatchlings. A mom, protecting her young, knows no fear! I think we see the Mom-mode displayed in these videos.
I know there will probably be some comments on the methods of discipline in the videos. Those discussions are valid and have a place. But, for this blog post, I would focus on the fact that these moms did not choose to sit around and watch their children make mistakes that could ruin their lives. God makes that same choice for us on a regular basis.
Many sermons in today’s churches focus on the love and grace of God. The Bible says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8). God is a very patient Father. But that is only part of who God is. He is a perfect parent and I believe he has a perfect “Mom-mode” as well.
Every good parent knows that discipline is necessary. Scripture also says, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
If we want to help people know God, they will need to know that God wants the best for his children and he will teach them to make good choices. That means God will discipline when necessary. Jim often uses the phrase, “God will be as gentle as he can be or as harsh as he must.” Isn’t that true of every good parent?
God is never out of control in his anger, but there are times when his discipline is swift and profound. He wants to change destructive behaviors in us as much as that mom wanted to change her son’s actions. Unlike the rest of us, God’s discipline is always perfect. God never punishes his children for innocent mistakes but he will always discipline our choice to knowingly disobey his will. He is a perfect parent and he wants to keep us safe.
I think most moms I know would have hopped in their cars to go find their sons if they heard they were doing something that would endanger their future. The Mom-mode is natural to most parents. We teach our children that there are consequences to bad choices. God teaches those same lessons to his kids.
We should be grateful for God’s discipline. We shouldn’t want or expect his blessings for wrong choices. We can be thankful that he loves us and forgives our bad choices when we repent and confess those sins. We should also realize that every good parent is quick to protect and discipline the choices that put us in danger. And God is a perfect Father. There will be times when he grabs us and pulls us out of harm’s way – and it will probably be a miserable experience.
In my experience, it is best not to make the wrong choices. Hebrews 12:10-11 makes it clear: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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.”
God has a “Mom-mode” too, and centuries of his children have been able to share in his holiness because of it. But it is better to learn and obey ahead of time. We would rather not feel his touch in the midst of a bad choice!