My youngest daughter, who is three, is affectionate, smart, and perceptive – but at the same time, she’s a major handful sometimes. She’s getting better, but over the course of her three years of life, she has been known to do things like . . .
- randomly go up to her sister and punch her in the face;
- rip up books, toys, and other valuables – just for fun; and
- lie in order to get what she wants.
Like I said, she’s getting a lot better, but it has required us to do a lot of correcting. And sometimes I worry she’s going to think she’s our problem child simply because we’ve had to correct her so much.
That’s why I was so encouraged the other day when I was lying next to her at bedtime, and I asked her how she felt.
“Cherished,” she said with a smile.
I thought I must have misheard her – I mean, she’s three years old. I’ve never heard her use the word “cherished” before, so again, I asked her how she felt.
“Loved,” she said, still smiling.
I hugged her tightly and told her it was so good to hear her say that, and it really was. It was good to know that somehow, in the midst of all the correcting and instructing – maybe, in part, because of the correcting and instructing – my daughter feels loved.
We all could stand to learn a lesson from my daughter. We feel God’s correction over and over again for our judgmental attitudes, our addictions, and our callousness to other people’s needs, and we spiritually withdraw. We indulge in toxic guilt trips and self-loathing, and we assume that God must be totally fed up with us.
Well, people, here’s the good news: if we feel the heavy hand of God’s correction bearing down on our rebellious souls, it is a good sign. As Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
So when you, me, and my hard-headed three-year-old daughter keep doing the same disobedient thing over and over again, we are going to get corrected, whether we like it or not. And when that happens, we have a choice: we can either become self-focused, or we can believe in the love of our Father, who loves us just as we are, but is too good of a dad to let us stay that way.