I’m learning that sometimes loving the right way doesn’t always feel right in the moment.
But loving the right way is a love that acts, beyond the emotions of the now, and fights hard to see the goal at the finish.
And this is my challenge.
You see, I’ll admit to you … I’m a recovering rescuer-especially when it comes to parenting. You know the kind. The one who hovers like a helicopter, swoops in, and saves the day in a moment’s notice–a “micromanager” of sorts. The kind who just goes ahead and does the task for anther because it is faster, easier, and gets done better, than if they fumble, complain, and take forever to do it, only to fail to get the task accomplished in the end.
Yes, the road to recovery has been long, but a journey that has been necessary—actually, crucial for the healthy development of my children and relationships.
And yes the other day, (drum roll please) … my 9-year old daughter went hungry. Yup, she did. No food at all until lunch. Why you ask? Well let me just expand on that…
She has developed a habit … as in, not-the-first-time-this-has-happened-routine, of conveniently and selectively editing my instructions. Oh don’t get me wrong, she will happily agree with my requests and promise to obey with a smile. Yet not even 15 minutes later, I’ll find her distracted and disobedient. And believe it or not, she would tell you that she’s not disobeying. Really. She’d explain with clarifications like, “I didn’t hear you”, or “I forgot”, or “I got distracted”.
But I’m onto her. This disobedience with a smile is almost worse than angry outbursts of protest—more insidious, and certainly more of a challenge to deal with, at least for this recovering parent. And I’m thinking (because of the influence of some very wise reading material that I’ll share with you at the end of this post) this developed “habit” is my fault. Because I haven’t provided her with enough motivation to make a purposeful decision–a good enough reason to choose to stop her distractions, forgetfulness, and lack of hearing.
And before you judge me for making my child starve, (this child who has been a poor and picky eater from the womb), boy did she eat at lunch! And the hope is that next time I instruct her to go downstairs to eat before we have to leave, she’ll think twice before “getting distracted” now that she has experienced the natural consequences of her decisions. She’ll have some experience to reflect upon–some motivation to make an intentional decision.
And isn’t this is how real life is? Whether we like them or not, there are always consequences for our decisions. And that’s why each time we are faced with one, we consider all we have learned before we decide. And as we have more and more lessons and experience, we tend to make better decisions.
And the thing is, God allows us to learn like this too, and it’s because He loves us. And while it’s true that amidst our failure He is gracious and merciful, He still allows us to experience some of the natural consequences of our choices. He doesn’t make our choices for us, or hover and swoop-in to prevent the choice or consequence from happening. He is patient, kind and long-suffering–wooing, and then waiting for us to completely turn to Him. And in that moment, He is right there alongside us, to help us grow and heal from our mistakes.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB) The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
And in His great love for us, He longs for us to obey. Not so that it ruins our fun, but to save us from the painful consequences of our disobedience. He wants the best for us, and because of that He allows us to learn through our choices and experiences. And when we mess up, and begin to experience the consequences, He says, ‘Come to Me’. And as we turn to Him, acknowledge Him, and invite Him to, He redeems and weaves it all together for our good, making all things beautiful in His time.
John 15:12 (NASB) “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
That’s what I long to be as a parent. As a daughter. As a wife. As a friend. Presenting choices. Allowing consequences. And undergirding it all with love and grace that just surprises them like crazy! After all, I’m longing to be a vessel— to be the hands and feet of Jesus, urging them to love Him like crazy too!
So in those moments when loving the right way just doesn’t feel right, know you are not alone, and keep your eyes on the goal–focused and determined to love like Jesus!
Does acting in love ever feel uneasy to you?
How are you different because of some experiences or consequences you have faced?
Below are two of the best parenting books I’ve ever read. Too bad I found them after my 5th child was born! It’s never too late to recover!