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  • Writer's pictureJodi

Tough Love

Love doesn’t always look pretty, romantic, or endearing.

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Love is often difficult, uncomfortable, and messy.

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When we enforce rules, set boundaries, and hold them to our expectations, our kids often feel as if we “don’t love them”. While we know that we are called to discipline and guide them, they can feel beat down, frustrated, and annoyed.

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As adults, we too, get really uncomfortable when it comes to discipline. We avoid confrontation with neighbors, coworkers, friends, and even our spouses because it’s uncomfortable. We may cut our workout short because we just can’t take another step or lift another weight. We put off things on our to-do lists because we’ve got “better things to do”, or they’re not that important. But we must remember we are called to “discipline” ourselves and each other. In order to be productive, responsible, contributing members of society, we are called to hold ourselves and others accountable. This takes discipline.

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Striving is something we hear we need to release or even stop altogether. But I encourage us to strive to live a life full of responsibility, reliability, accountability, and vulnerability.

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Sounds a lot like a life full of discipline. When we discipline ourselves and others we focus on what truly matters. We gain a perspective that is about more than the here and now, and we steer away from the trendy “live in the moment” mentality. This perspective and practice in discipline becomes our roots and saving grace when things get hard in life. PSA-- things will get hard in life, at some point, for all of us- no exceptions.

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We often wonder why bad things happen to good people. I believe difficult times are used to discipline us. They are used to remind us that we are not enough on our own- they are used to humble us. Difficult times show us that we are not self-sufficient; we need others and we need God. We need to be able to ground down, dig deep and connect to all the ways that we have gained (been trained and disciplined) to keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. One arduous step at a time.

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Just as a parent enforces discipline on their kids to keep them safe, accountable, and responsible, God uses difficult times to discipline us. He carries us through the storms and fires of life to renew, refine, and restore us.

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So when we see that parent out in public with the “perfectly” behaved kids, or we scroll through our social media feeds and envy all the “picture-perfect lives”, we need to remember that perfection doesn’t exist. We are seeing mere snapshots of someone else’s life.

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Also, remember that behind all the “perfection” we see in others’ lives there was, and likely still is, a lot of tough love. We don’t know the struggle, difficulty, or discipline they have gone through. We don’t know the mountain they have arduously climbed to achieve the beautiful view.

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Don’t avoid the struggle. Don’t avert the pain. Don’t let the opportunity to discipline yourself or others pass you by. You can’t get OVER the difficulties in this life; you can only get THROUGH them. And if you want to get through them well-with strength, determination, grit, and grace, then you have to put in the reps. You have to put in the work. You have to have discipline.

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“No struggle, no strength. No mountain, no mountain peak.” ~Max Lucado

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).


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