She stood at the front of the small church and looked out at the congregation, “I love my life”, she said in a strong Rotherham accent, I wish I could get that accent with my written words. Something like, “IIIIIIIII LUV MI LIIIIIFFFFE”.
I remember thinking, “I don’t love mine”. At the time things were complicated and challenging beyond my worst nightmare. I sat there as this lady waxed lyrical about her life, work, faith, marriage and more. I could feel the anger rise. It was OK for her, she had not experienced anything like what I had. Of course she loved her life.
Against every fiber in my body I sought her out at the end of the service, I wanted to run and scream and yet something led me to the front instead. Without wanting to, I asked her if she would be prepared to meet with me. I so wanted her to say she was too busy! She agreed and over the next, I don’t know how long, she did meet with me. She didn’t cut me any slack, she never once said “there there”, nor did she let me get away with wallowing in self-pity; which was tough because I was the Queen at self-pity, and could throw the most awesome pity-parties.
I share this because I knew that while she had not experienced anything that I had, she was a solid woman of God who spoke truth, often bluntly, but always to support never to demoralize or demean.
I listened to her and followed much of what she said. It wasn’t until being in America though that I was able to learn how to put it into practice. She prayed with me about coming here and now her words are among some of those I stand on when things are tougher than usual.
I am sharing this for several reasons. This lady really did love her life, and she helped me a great deal on my journey, but she was only part of the solution of me moving from where I was, to where I wanted to be.
We all need people in our lives that are prepared to speak truth, bring tough discipline through the truth, and hold us to account. All too often in today’s church people are afraid of ‘telling it as it really is’, preferring instead to dance around the word of God for fear of causing offense. I needed that, ‘tough love’, that ‘strong discipline’ and I am beyond thankful that someone was prepared to step up and give it. I have to say it hurt, it was painful to hear and even harder to put into practice. But because she was prepared, I grew and stayed on the path.
What was the key she shared? It was simply this, know the word of God and follow it. We have a choice. We choose to follow or walk away, get angry or stay calm, scream or stay silent, move on, if we are ‘unhappy’, or stay the course.
Discipline is not pleasant at the time of receiving it, it can even cause resentment and anger, but if the discipline is Godly and the recipient willing to surrender to it, even if reluctantly, the rewards are immeasurable.
Discipline brings life and shows love, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Now all discipline seems for the moment not to be joyful but painful, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who are trained by it.
For like a lamp is a commandment, and instruction islight, and the way of life is the reproof of discipline.
Love and prayers