Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tough Love

Today I read 2 Corinthians 12 where I can only assume Paul is talking about a vision he has had, although I am not sure why he is bringing it up to the Saints in Corinth. He talks a little bit about his weaknesses and how God's grace is sufficient for all those who humble themselves before Him. But the line that stood out to me comes from verse 19 where Paul says that everything they have done was for the edifying of the Saints.

This is a line that you hear from time to time both in fiction and in reality. You hear it sometimes in shows and movies where the person rationalizes their odd, and oftentimes evil and illegal behaviors by saying it was for someone's benefit. In real life if you hear this phrase it is usually from the denial of something that the other person, oft times a child, really wanted. You usually hear the person doing the denying say something like this is for your own good. They then engage in something that is normally called "tough love" and do something that the other person does not want to happen but ultimately needs.

Heavenly Father does this to us too. He will deny us something that in our mortal thinking, we think we need. It reminds me a lot of the story of Elder Hugh B. Brown when he was denying his military promotion because he was a Latter-day Saint. Elder Brown was extremely unhappy and even blamed God for his not being promoted. It was not until years later when he was called as an Apostle that he realized that if he had been given that promotion his life would have been totally different and he never would have been able to be called as an Apostle. What Heavenly Father did for Elder Brown seemed cruel at the time, but it truly was for his benefit.

We do the same thing with our children all the time. Your child may cry and stamp their feet and get really upset with you if you don't let them touch the stove when they reach for it, but you know it is for their benefit. You know that a little anger, sadness and frustration from them is worth it to avoid hours and perhaps days of pain and discomfort if they actually touch that hot stove. It can be hard to inflict a little pain and frustration in those we love to save them a great pain later. It takes a true act of love in order to accomplish it. Because it is not fun to deny your child something that they really want. It is not so hard to deny them something they want when you know it will physically hurt them, but when they want something and the consequences are not so immediate, it can be a challenge to deny them that.

But if we truly love them, then we have to do what is best for them. This is not always what they want. But it's not about giving them what they want, it's about giving them what they need. Heavenly Father understands this and I'm sure it is very hard for Him to see us suffer like we do, but He loves us enough to do what is best for us always. He knows what is just around the bend and what our potential is. He will help us to reach that potential and will do whatever is necessary to get us there. Tough love. But it is necessary. If we really want to make it easy on ourselves, the best way is to ask for Heavenly Father to help us be adaptable for whatever comes our way and to help us understand His plan for us. That is the best way to make sure that we are ready for what He has in store for us. Because His plan is always better than our own plan, I guarantee it. Until tomorrow.

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