Training is Proof of Love

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Gem in Sunriver, Oregon. Photo courtesy Sydney Wellburn.

Gem’s been in his new home for almost two weeks. He's thoroughly enjoying himself. He travelled to Sunriver for Thanksgiving like a champ. He got so much attention from the niece and nephews! And exhausted himself with two new dogs! Gem is riding high on life.

Unfortunately, he's gotten so comfortable and confidant in his new life that he is... already getting himself into trouble! That's puppies for you.

Gem has decided that biting people's hands is the best way to play. Of course, not everyone enjoys having their hands bitten. Grandmothers and toddlers are particularly averse to Gem's playful advances. So Gem is learning about a new concept: the word "No!"

When Gem's not playfully biting people, he is trying to gobble up chokecherries in the yard. Poor innocent Gem has no idea chokecherries are toxic to his system. So it's 100% the responsibility of Gem's handler to keep him away from danger. Nearly all of Gem’s training will be positive (treats, praise, etc.) Only the most dangerous behaviors require firmness. Gem doesn't like it. There are moments of training (short ones) that are just no fun. But these are meaningful, and purely meant to build well-being. Gem will be better for it, when all is said and done.

There is a vision for Gem's life, and it's one where he doesn't hurt himself, or hurt others. Quite the opposite, (if training goes well) he will be a joy- bringer. Getting to there, from here, will take some time. The responsibility for that falls directly on Gem's handler's shoulders (not on Gem).

Gem can't yet envision his full potential, but his handler sure can. Gem is perfectly loved, at every stage of development.

You are a gem.

Have you ever gone through an uncomfortable growing season in life? Maybe one that involved unpleasant experiences, suffering, or loss? During these more intense seasons, it's easy to believe we're suffering because God is angry at us. Maybe we're being punished? Maybe we are paying for regrettable past decisions? Or maybe we’re just not that lovable? Nonsense.

In God's upside down grace kingdom, the very opposite is true. Going through a season of uncomfortable growth is actually proof that God loves us. He has a vision for our well-being, and he'll use suffering (and blessing, and everything in between) to bring that vision to fruition. Sometimes it’s a firm, “No!”or a closed door. Sometimes He pulls us back from something that was toxic, and we had no idea. No matter what, He’s training is for really good things.

The goal is not to change us so we’ll become lovable. We are perfectly loved just as we are. But doesn’t getting stronger, more peaceful, and more joyful sound lovely? The supreme goal is really just learning how to flourish within the love that is ours, from start to finish.

The responsibility for our training falls directly on His shoulders. His way is gentle, with tons of positive reinforcement. Occasionally, and only when the benefits are high, the training feels more intense. No matter what, we will be better for it, in the end. We'll come out the other side with greater freedom, more joy, more peace, more wisdom, more... everything good. That's how grace-training works. This is the flourishing God has in mind for His precious people. And it’s all proof of His love.

For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child (Hebrews 12:6, 7a, TPT).

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