The Hard Side of Love

"Honey, do you know why momma is going to have to discipline you?" I asked my three-year-old daughter.

With a quivering lower lip and big eyes filled with tears she replied, "Yes, Momma, because you wuv me."

The look in her eyes gave away the fact that she was parroting what she had heard me say to her in explanation in our previous hand-to-bottom sessions. She was trying to reconcile my love for her and the pain that would soon be inflicted on her by me.

Tears filled my eyes as I did what I believe the Bible clearly tells me is my responsibility as a parent. It gave me no joy.

Afterwards, I took my sweet baby in my arms as we cuddled together. As she wept on my shoulder, I explained,

"Boo, if Momma let you do whatever you wanted to and disobey her, you could be hurt very badly. You don't understand why I am asking you not to do what got you into trouble, but one day I pray that you will. And then you will see that Momma disciplined you because she loves you so very much. I want the best for you. You were going down the wrong path and I had to do something about that."

She wrapped her arms around me and was quiet for a moment.

Then she looked up at me with a mischievous glint in her eye and said, "But, Momma, God's spanks are way harder than yours, right?"

She nailed it. I nodded in agreement.

I can rail against the discipline of my heavenly Father and become bitter in the process. I can be so short-sighted as I race along a path full of destruction that I am oblivious to. If my God didn't love me, He would not pull me off that path, but just let me do as I pleased.

I have a choice to accept His discipline and believe it is to benefit me and thank Him for His protection. Or I can rebel and begrudge Him the hard side of His everlasting love for me. Love is not a feeling. It is a decision to always protect what is best for the object of its devotion.

Before I had children, I believed they were given to parents to be taught. While that is true, I have been taught far more about the great heart of my God as my Father through my three babies. I have come to understand that He will not willingly be a part of my destruction any more than I would be to my children. The difference between Him and me is that He the perfect Parent who never makes the wrong decision. Discipline and chastisement are every bit a part of love as the warm fuzzy feelings are. I have to learn to thank Him for both sides of His love.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?
Hebrews 12:5-7 (NLT)