Lessons and Love
Lately I’ve been asking myself why we Christians are so fixated on Lessons. How many times have we heard, in the midst of difficulty or hardship, that God’s trying to teach us something? Or that He’ll keep “refining” us until we’ve learned the lesson sufficiently? Now, I believe in milking hard situations for growth. At times I’ve prayed, “Don’t let me waste this” (though TBH, these days I’m more on the Really?!? end of the spectrum). But if I view life as a long series of lessons or a divine obstacle course that I have to keep repeating until I pass, I feel anxious and disconnected from God’s lovingkindness. I start blaming myself for my struggles and unmet needs, wondering if I’m a spiritual dunce who isn’t getting it, when really these things are sometimes part of being alive in a fallen world.
The lesson thing seems to be rooted in the idea of God as Father and therefore God as disciplinarian and guide. So why do parents discipline and teach their kids? For the kids’ own good, i.e. to help them become the fullest and healthiest version of themselves, but also (and maybe more so) to equip them to leave the nest eventually and be self-sufficient. God definitely “parents” us in the first way, especially when it comes to helping us cut habitual sin out of our lives. But I’ve realized that the second one doesn’t apply. The first kind of teaching is borne out of love and a desire to see the child at his or her best. The second kind can involve love too, but I think it’s borne more out of a (natural) desire to be free of responsibility for the child. God’s not looking for that. As one of my church’s pastors reminded us last week, God wants us to need Him. He delights in it. He’s not sighing at our ongoing messiness and neediness, wishing we would get it together already so He could go RV across the country in peace. He wants us to consciously depend on Him for everything. He looks at us primarily through the eyes of love, so everything He does is rooted in love.
When I keep this in mind, it changes my whole outlook. It means security. It means I’m God’s daughter, not His remedial student. When I default to God as a disciplinarian and teacher, it slowly sucks the joy out of my faith. Instead of resting in His love, I feel hopeless, like I’m trying to ace a test when I don’t even know the questions. But I don’t need to face each day distressed that I’m stuck in my circumstances until I get life right. I need to know I’m in the hands of a Father who loves me – who is using the frustrations in my life for my ultimate good, with no conditions on me, and won’t leave me to suffer pointlessly without relief. He will never get weary of me bringing my needs to Him. He is with me to the end.
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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