Love. A word that means so much, yet has been used, abused, diminished, and misinterpreted way more. When did loving someone mean you didn’t tell them the truth? When did it mean you only told people what you thought they wanted to hear? Or when did it mean you didn’t disagree or correct them even when they were wrong? The worst for me is when “love” is used as a euphemism for simply having sex. Really??
The truth is, loving someone is so much more. It is often uncomfortable, awkward, and challenging. Nothing has taught me this more than parenting. Love does not only include the good feelings you get when giving a hug, receiving a smile, or hearing laughter. It also includes the hard feelings when you have to be uncomfortably honest, the sad feelings when you have to say no or disagree, and the hurt feelings when you have to discipline. As a parent, no, as a LOVING parent, you HAVE to discipline. It’s part of the job description. You cannot be a loving parent without discipline. Beyond that, you have to be willing to help kids grow, even when it doesn’t “feel” very loving.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”? Me too. And it didn’t help….at all. I give my boys more than they can handle all the time, and I would be failing them as a father if I didn’t.
-Teaching them to walk…more than they can handle.
-Teaching them to catch a ball…more than they can handle.
-Teaching them to share….more than they can handle.
-Teaching them to drink from a big boy cup…more than they can handle. (we’ve got the stains to prove it)
-Teaching them to not talk back and be respectful….more than they can handle.
What kind of parent would I be if I DIDN’T teach them these things? I’ll give you the answer: A lousy one. It is obvious looking around our little corners of the world that learning never stops. I believe it is my fatherly responsibility to give my boys more than they can handle so that they can learn how to adequately deal with failure and success, and so they can learn how to ask for help. Why are we so against asking for help? What kind of stigmas have we set up in our society that keep us from asking for help? What are we trying to prove to the people around us? We all need help in one way or another, and sometimes, getting more than we can handle is the only thing that will force us to ask for help. You know what they call the guy that goes through life never asking for help? Lonely.
When it comes to failure and success, the last thing I want to do is breed a bunch of sore losers AND sore winners. In life, we all win and lose every single day. Throwing a pity party and gloating are the obvious poor responses to winning and losing. However, we have become masters of disguising our poor responses in other ways. We give unsolicited and insecure excuses when we lose and we blush, minimize importance, and are almost embarrassed when we win. My goal is that my boys realize that just because they fail does not mean they are failures, and that just because they win does not mean they are entitled to anything. Because, often times, losing AND winning will bring more than we can handle in many different ways.
So next time you feel like God is giving you more than you can handle, just know, He probably is, because he loves you. So don’t ask “Why me, God?” Instead, ask “What are you teaching me, God?” And then shut up and listen. If you have more than you can handle, you can rest-assured that God cares intensely about you, and isn’t done teaching you. He isn’t the cause of our pain, but he is the medicine for it. He stands ready and waiting to love us through each and every win and loss we face in this life.
If you have put your faith in God, then this should bring comfort. If you have not put your faith in God, then I offer you this simple challenge leading up to Valentine’s Day. Tonight, before you go to sleep, ask God to prove himself. Meaningfully offer these five words, “God, prove yourself to me.” The loving God I know will show up, maybe not right away, but he will show up.
Because he loves you, and there’s nothing He can’t handle.