When Love Is Painful

Erik Cooper —  March 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

Our morning family ritual reminds me of a Survivor immunity challenge. Two appointed co-captains (that’s my wife and me) frantically bark orders at a chaotic tribe of half-dressed children, who mix their sluggish energies between stuffing books in their backpacks and breakfast in their faces, all while not so subtly trying to keep their rival siblings from doing the same. (I can actually hear Jeff Probst doing the play by play).

I’m not sure God ever intended three children to live under the same roof simultaneously (I’m looking for Scriptural backup). Most days, I’m ready to vote at least one of them off the island.

We keep it real here.

This morning, team leader alpha (that’s me) apparently barked a little too loud at his 9 year old offspring, reducing her to a sobbing mess of tears. Now even though my Anna is destined for an emmy-winning role in a CBS daytime drama, this isn’t the way a dad wants to start his Monday.

But alas, the van door closed and mom whisked her away before frustration gave way to clarity. And I’ve spent the morning full of regret. (Guilt is a parental right of passage).

But as I slowly rise from the dad-of-the-day doldrums, I find I’m singing the immortal words of the 70’s metal band Nazareth: Love Hurts (go on and thrust those iPhone lighters in the air).

Love doesn’t always manifest as smiles and roses. Sometimes it’s flat painful. Sometimes it has to be. Let’s ask the Creator Himself.

God’s love accepts us right where we’re at, but it’s never content to leave us there. Because He loves us, He’s not afraid to throw it down. To call out our error. To step in the road as we’re careening blindly toward a cliff. God’s love corrects.

“But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.” –Proverbs 3:11-12

God’s not afraid to break us. In fact, sometimes His immense love may leave us sobbing in the backseat of a mini-van on the way to school.

Back to my morning.

Where God and I differ (amongst the whole holy, omniscient, Creator of the universe thing) is that sometimes I break my daughter with my love, and sometimes I break her with my own brokenness.

And therein lies the challenge. To know the difference.

This morning, Princess Anna needed a square kick to the posterior of her fairytale gown. But her daddy probably did, too (this is where the whole Cinderella dress analogy breaks down). This daddy loves his baby girl enough to both call out her error, and to know when it’s humbly time to say he’s sorry.

I’m glad our Heavenly Father loves us both enough to break us, too. With a perfect love never content to leave us as we are.

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