For some reason my dog will sometimes growl at my nieces. She’s not being mean or hateful, but a low growl just to let them know she is the boss, and even as she does so her tail just wags and she smiles. My theory is because they are all pretty much the same size, it is the only way Emma knows to express her rights as the ‘dog’ of the house. If you tell her ‘bad dog, no growling’, typically she will stop. Because, no matter what she believes, she is NOT the boss.
Unfortunately, my nieces have let this power go their head a tiny bit. A few days ago, Emma was under the table and listening well. Then one little girl walks in and says ‘bad dog’, waggling her finger at the patient dog who had done nothing wrong.
“Why did you do that?” I asked the blonde ringletted little one. “She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Do you like being yelled at when you are doing the right thing?”
Chastised, the girl responded, “No, but she was growling earlier.”
Ah. A recorder of previous sins.
“Okay,” I said, pulling the child into my lap. “But that was then and this is now. If you tell her she is doing bad when she is not, don’t you think that might get confusing?”
“What if you were being sassy earlier and then later came in the kitchen and asked if you could please have a piece of fruit. Then I told you no because i don’t like your sassy attitude.”
“But if I said please, that’s not sassy.”
“Not sassy then, but you were sassy earlier.”
“But I was doing the right thing.”
“So was Emma.”
The little girl scrunched her nose up, thinking, processing and then nodded.
No one likes getting their noses rubbed in their wrong doings, but when you do slip up–because everyone slips up–there are consequences for those mistakes. My niece got a lecture. Emma got a time out. Sometimes we have to pay fines, or worse, go to prison, or apologize to people we really don’t want to apologize to. No matter who we are, we sin. We mess up. And God’s ‘punishment’ is the conviction and consequences for these actions.
Yet our hope still remains in our God and when we do mess up, he’s the rebuker, but also the restorer. And so we ask “But now, Lord, what do I do?” And if we are wise, we’ll listen before we act.
My niece and Emma may have had a bad day, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be restored, and as Emma nuzzled me later that night, I know what restoration to a rebuker looks like.
Correction is painful, but restoration brings peace, love, and joy.