Par-a-dox—“a situation, or person, or thing that combines contradictory features of qualities.”

“I will not be made sad by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy.” (2 Cor 2:3)

Ugh, we had a tough night. It’s been a tough month really. Such a paradox. I read this verse this morning and it jumped off the page. Like Paul was in my head. He has had to discipline the church he loves so much. He disciplined because he loved and he tells us in verse 4 that he was “heartbroken. I cried over it. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I wanted you to know how very much I love you.”

I’ve always been told parenting is physical exhaustion on the front end that changes to mental and emotional exhaustion on the back end. I am feeling every ounce of that today. I’m feeling the paradox that the one who ought to give me the greatest joy has made me sad. He is halfway to 22 and over 60% of his way to 18. (I had to do some math for that one.) He doesn’t need our physical help anymore. But there is a mental, emotional investment that we have to make on behalf of his heart. And that is hard work.

It is harder than tying his shoe, pouring him a bowl of cereal, cleaning his face, or picking out his clothes—all the physical mom tasks that pile up and leave you physically exhausted. I know how to do all those things and do them well. But this, this heart health, this training, this preparing him for the man he will become is hard. It makes my brain tired. It requires too much head space. And it keeps me on my knees. He didn’t even do anything too terrible. But we see glimpses of pride, disrespect, and anger when we want to see humility, honor, and kindness. And so the one who should bring me much joy has made me sad.

The discipline has left me heartbroken. I have cried over it. I didn’t want to hurt him but I want him to know how very much I love him. I love him so much that I will not let him get away with pride, or disrespect, or anger towards his family. I love him so much that I want his heart ready and aware of what it takes to be the best version of him, to become the man God intended. That’s the call I have on me now and it makes me tired because I’ve never done it before and I want to do it right.

Life is full of paradoxes. The gifts of life can feel like white elephants. The food I love can make my body sick. Social media can make me feel connected yet leave me envious. The people we love the most can leave us angry and wounded.

“For I cried out to him for hope, praising him as I spoke.” (Psalm 66:17)

This psalm was written after a victorious battle. This warrior has seen death and “fire and flood” and “great abundance.” He has seen the paradox of battle—the pain of fighting for something you believe in, and of the inevitable losses, against the joy of victory. He has cried out to God and praised God at the same time.

The holy things and the hard things can co-exist. We can cry out to God and praise God in the same breath. The things that bring us the greatest joy can also bring great pain. There is still a great battle going on friends. A battle for our souls, a battle for our hearts, and battle for our minds. It can leave us tired and weary but it is so worth the fight.

Paul, with his weary, worn-out, battle-ridden heart says, “but thanks be to God, who leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession…” (2 Cor 2:14).

Thanks be to God, we are not alone. Thanks be to God, Christ was a victor. Thanks be to God, I am being led alongside Christ, who lived the greatest paradox: the divine in a human body, the king of everything born in a dirty manger, the one with holy, healing hands working as a carpenter and touching the sick and broken.

Life is a paradox, the hard and the holy are one. The hard things lead us into the holy things, keep us on our knees, crying out for hope, praising God as we speak.

Kimberly Mcleod is a wife and mother of 3 busy boys and lives in Cumming, Georgia. She loves Jesus, coffee, and good words. Check out her Words Journal and blog, What a Good Word. Her motto is Proverbs 12:25 “Good Words make the heart glad.”

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