I like pulled pork!
That is what Charlie told us after we had to put some boundaries around meal time. Dinner was getting to be a boarder line painful time at our house. It would take Charlie over an hour to have his dinner, and sometimes he would act like we were pulling his arm out when we tried to get him to finish. So we decided to take the “tough love” approach and put a timer on for him, once the timer rang, we would take his food away if there was anything left. Now my child isn’t starving, he eats quite a bit during the day, but watching him cry when the timer went off was gut wrenching. And it wasn’t any easier the next morning when he begged me not to take his food away when I gave him breakfast. I didn’t have to, but it was really hard on my heart to have him beg me not to take his food away.
Our strategy ended up working so well that we decided to expand our luck by introducing things into his meal that he normally tells us he wouldn’t eat. His doctor had encouraged us to do this over a year ago, but I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment when he answered he eats what is in front of him, or you take it away, when I asked him what happened if he didn’t eat it. So we gave him broccoli with his dinner one night, and told him he needed to eat what we gave him. A week later it was pulled pork, which he claimed he didn’t like. He ate both, and liked both.
I wish I could say that I have never approached God like Charlie when he begged me not to take his breakfast away, but the truth is I do. We are scheduled to go on vacation for my cousin’s wedding in Bermuda in May, and I am begging God to not give us a hurricane like we had on our last vacation. I’m not kidding.
But I have to remember that even if He doesn’t give us a restful vacation, all that He did give us through the hurricane in Puerto Rico. And all that He did give us because of the blood that was shed on the cross.
Tough love, is real love. And real love can be walking through a hurricane in peace because of the One who loves you.
Love does the hard things. Love chose to endure the cross.
Recently a friend of mine was telling me that she had to have a hard conversation with the pastor at her church to ensure the best safety for the children that attend the preschool she works at. This isn’t how things were supposed to go when God created man in the garden of Eden. But God loved us so much that He gave us the gift of choice. And we get the opportunity to choose love. Even when it is hard.
Speaking of gifts. When Jesus was born, the wise men brought gold, frankincense and, myrrh. Although these gifts held much significance one was the spiritual meaning, because it was was customary to honor a king with these items. Gold symbolizing kingship, frankincense representing a priestly role, and myrrh being an anointing oil. There is also interpretation that myrrh symbolizes death, and it also makes an appearance when Jesus is on the cross. Of this substances many uses, it was customary to give those who were condemned by death by crucifixion myrrh mixed with wine because it acts as an anesthetic. He is offered this mixture, but He refuses. He turns down something that would ease His pain.
How many times have you wanted to run away from the hard things? How many times have I wanted to run away from doing the hard things? I would rather turn my back on the hard conversations, hide when life gets overwhelming, and protect my fragile heart from being hurt because I trust. Love is hard, and with Charlie it would be really easy to just let him eat mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets for dinner every night (okay that isn’t the full range of foods that he will eat, but you get the point).
But seriously, yes this was tough on us, but exercising this tough love is nothing to what Jesus endured on the cross because of His love for us. Before going to the cross Jesus was praying to the Father that if there was anyway to take the cup of suffering from Him, let it be, but nevertheless, the Father’s will be done. And here was Jesus again submitting to the will of His father, refusing something that would help take His own pain away.
Just like in the Garden of Eden, we have a choice. Just like Jesus, we have a choice. The choice to turn our backs and give into temptation, or endure even when it is hard, for the sake of love.