When my youngest daughter was three, she was a handful and was known to do things like compulsively lie; randomly go up to her sister and punch her in the face; and rip up books, toys and other valuables just for fun. It required us to do a lot of correcting.
I used to worry that she would think she’s our problem child simply because we had to correct her so much. That’s why I was so encouraged one day a few years ago when I was lying next to her at bedtime and asked her how she felt.
“Cherished,” she said with a smile.
I thought I must have misheard her -- I mean, she was three years old. I had 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 felt 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. So we spiritually withdraw. We engage in self-loathing and assume that God must be totally fed up with us.
The good news is, if we feel the heavy hand of God’s correction bearing down on our rebellious souls, it's a good sign. As Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights."
So when you, me or a three-year-old keep doing the same disobedient things 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.