I’ve gotten myself somewhat stuck trying to write this next post, so I’m going to give it a shot and see how it goes. I feel like I’m still trying to communicate why on earth I would feel disappointed with love, why I think that it can be a good thing, and why I expect to run into that disappointment fairly often in my walk with Christ.

Perhaps it could be stated as simply as this: my ways aren’t His. I lack understanding. I just don’t get God and what He does an awful lot of the time. Unfortunately, I suffer from delusions and think that I do understand. In fact, darn it all anyway, I understand perfectly, all the time, ra-ra-ra-rawr, rawr, rawr, blah, whatever. So I lack understanding, I experience disappointment, I start up the whole cycle of Bekah dealing with disappointment, and it’s a good thing. It is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to be better conformed to the likeness of Christ. God can take the wind out of my sails, no problem, and leave me stranded to give me time to understand that I don’t understand. I think this is something that will be a semi regular occurrence because, in my saner moments, I’ve a suspicion that there are many, many things wrong with my understanding. Really, if you stop and think about the objective truths of God, does He make any sense to you?

Love disciplines. This little gem was the source of much anguish for me and an effective needle on my butterfly-and-rainbow euphoria balloon. Because I didn’t know all that much about love in general and God’s love specifically, I’d dragged out a concordance and was checking out references to God’s love. It was pretty exciting, until I found Hebrews 12:4 -11. The link is there if you want to read the whole bit, but I’ll quote the part that made me choke.

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

I had a HUGE problem with this passage.  To make it even worse, verse 6 didn’t originate in Hebrews. The author is quoting a passage from Proverbs 3, so it’s in the Bible at least twice. Here’s some objective truth for you, a statement of fact – if God loves you, you can expect correction and discipline. I could not – literally could not – understand that, because I could not reconcile what God says about love in 1 Corinthians 13 (patience, kindness, selflessness, etc.) with discipline and being treated as His child. I was so upset about it that there were times I hated God. I did not want to be His child.

My life experience was causing me some real problems here. What I knew about a father’s discipline was that I could expect harshness, cruelty, and capriciousness. Capriciousness is taken from caprice, which means:

a: a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action b: a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes <the caprices of the weather>
: a disposition to do things impulsively
By itself, capriciousness is fine. It is not, however, something you want associated with harshness and cruelty. I was disciplined by my father, sure. He made certain to exercise that privilege, that right, of parental authority, but I never really knew what to expect from him. The boundaries shifted. What was fine one minute might earn me a beating or other punishment the next. What had been fine for months might be, just this minute, the epitome of childhood rebelliousness. I saw little patience, kindness, or unselfishness from my dad. That just… wasn’t what he brought to my family. By the time I was starting to talk to God about love, my dad’s presence was starting to fade from my life. I was not at all interested in getting myself into another “child” situation where I would be subject to somebody’s weird ideas of love and discipline, you know? I was so done with being controlled. Beyond that, it didn’t help at all that I could read, say, the Old Testament and see lots of terrible things happening to the naughty Jews because of their disobedience to God. That was scary, scary stuff!
The ironic thing is that my fear of being controlled was doing a fine job of controlling me. It’s odd how that works, how fear removes your choices without you ever being aware of it, and how it stampedes you into something under the illusion of your own, free will. Thinking about it now, I suppose that’s part of why discipline is important to love. It takes discipline to stand against fear. At the time, though, love and discipline being paired frightened me badly, and I got stuck there. I think I’m going to stick here now, too, and move on in the next post about what it was like to have God discipline me over my fear of discipline. 😉 This post is plenty long already!