Previously published on 8/29/2013
I’m really wound up today. It’s usually not a good idea for me to write while I’m still wrestling with something, but sometimes it’s when I share most intimately who I am and who Jesus is making me. Transparency is so important in the Christian walk. When we try to pretend that everything is alright, we are perfect, or nothing ever bothers us, we lose an opportunity to show how God works. So, today, I’d just like to share my broken, messy heart with you and how Jesus is leading me.
For the last ten years, I’ve been really focusing on learning what it means to love like Jesus. I grew up in a house with a peace-making mama. She was the middle child to a father who was abusive, and she learned to make peace at all costs. That’s how she avoided pain as a child. My mom is a beautiful peace-maker. More often than not, she sets herself aside to help someone else avoid pain. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). My mom truly knows how to do that. She taught me to love people in that way. And, bringing peace is definitely something Jesus came to do.
But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more about the way God loves us. And, He doesn’t always love us through peace. Sometimes, He loves us through silence, or even through pain. He doesn’t always give us our way or what we think we need. When we violate His law, He forgives us, but He also allows us to experience the consequences of our choices. This doesn’t seem very loving. Wouldn’t a good and loving God always want to bless us? Doesn’t unconditional love mean that we’re always happy and have our way? Isn’t that what a good Father would want for His children?
The truth is that a good Father disciplines His children. Over and over, the Bible tells us that God disciplines those He loves:
“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal”. (Job 5:17-18)
“…the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son”. (Hebrews 12:6)
“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 son He delights in”. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
So, it’s not always sunshine and roses with love. Sometimes, the most loving thing that can be done involves discipline, pain and consequences. But, this is how we learn. This is what keeps us safe. If we experience consequences, and the pain that most often accompanies them, we learn to choose wisely the next time. At least, that’s the idea.
This is where I struggle: at the intersection of grace and consequences. I love to extend grace to people. I find it much easier to excuse a hurt if it makes the other person more comfortable. But, that’s not always the right or loving thing to do. It feels right because it usually makes the other person happy – it lets them off the hook. But, it doesn’t lead to anything good. In fact, it transfers the pain or discomfort to my shoulders and shows the other person it’s ok to continue to hurt me because I won’t stand up for myself or enforce my boundaries. It’s detrimental to both of us. That’s not loving like Jesus.
So, I invite you to join me on this quest to learn what it truly looks like to love like Jesus. How do we show grace, kindness and forgiveness, but not continually be abused? Sometimes people need grace and a clean slate. But, sometimes the most loving thing to do is to allow them the consequences of their choices. I’m pressing hard into Jesus today to see what He has to teach me. I want to find that godly balance and love people really well. That’s what we’re called to do, right? Jesus said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m hoping people see Jesus in me, even when loving like Him is hard.