When God Asks Us To Break The Rules

Life’s not fair.

But you know what I’m noticing? I’m okay with some of the unfairness. As in, ‘m happy to go fifteen ten five miles beyond the speed limit on the freeway and not get a ticket. Or to get back more change than I put in to a vending machine because of a malfunction.

But if it’s unfair in a way that makes me work harder? Those moments can really frustrate and stress me out.

Perhaps you can relate?

So can today’s guest. Amy Corley shared a few weeks ago here about the surprising gift in  God’s unfairness with us. Today she shares how God stretched her to love like that, too. May you be blessed as you read her story!


It happened suddenly. I got up, walked out of the room, and closed myself in my own bedroom. The kids kept arguing and squabbling, but I was done. I needed a time out!

There in the quiet of my room, thoughts wandered to a memory from the parenting trenches years ago when my children were much younger. . .

The day had been long.  The bone-tired ache overwhelmed me as I knelt by the tub, knees pillowed on the bathmat, helping my daughter shampoo her hair.  Somewhere between, “Can you hand me the cup to help you rinse” and “Tip your head back so the soap doesn’t get in your eyes,” my daughter melted down. And I ran smack dab into a wall of rage and indignation from my over-tired six year old.

I was not prepared for the impact.

I am sure that in the midst of our conflict I gave some sort of ultimatum; and maybe I received disobedience and disrespect in return. All I know is I started melting down too.

I don’t know about you, but when my child directly opposes me—when they completely undo the plans in my head with their own demands and needs—I get angry.

Gentle words do not come easy. Deep down, I just wanted the bath to be over, the children in bed, and peace to reign. (Can I get an “amen?”) I longed for some sort of simple road map to peace.

As I wrestled with my own anger, I thought of this from James:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” –James 1:5

So I excused myself from the bathroom (my daughter was old enough to be left in the bathroom alone), walked to my bedroom, and shut the door.

I begged God, “Please, please help me! I don’t know what to do, I can’t see my way through this!”

I felt like two distinct words were my answer, as they resonated in my heart: “Serve her.”

“No,” I thought, “that can’t be right.”

“Umm… Lord?  I thought I just heard you say, ‘Serve her.’  But that would be silly, because she was SO disobedient and SOOO disrespectful, surely I should address those behaviors, right?  This is not fair, God!  Did you hear her tone?  The words she used?!”

Just in case He didn’t hear my clear, logical argument, I summed it up, “She doesn’t deserve service, Lord.  She deserves consequences.”

And then those words again, so unmistakable and so clear: “Serve her.”

“OK. Fine!” I relented.

As I dried my tears, steadied my breath and headed back to the scene of battle, I made a choice: I stopped focusing on how desperately I wanted the children in bed. I knelt back down beside the tub and spoke gently to my daughter. I helped her finish her bath, being mindful of earlier desires she had expressed. I helped her dry off and get ready for bed.

I served her.

Perhaps it was just a bit of time to breathe that we both needed?  Perhaps it was the gentle tone of my voice that soothed her spirit?

Or perhaps it was obedience to that “unfair” request by God that paved the way for reconciliation and joy to re-enter my relationship with my daughter…

The last time I had the privilege of sharing words here, I shared about fairness—about getting what we deserve. And we rejoiced together than God loves us well—even unfairly well—which is a great thing! My daughter’s disobedience in today’s story certainly merited discipline. Yet when I asked God for wisdom about how to proceed, He asked me to be unfair like Him.

God knew my little girl’s heart and he knew mine.  When I served her as God instructed, it was a balm to both of us.  It was not what she deserved, but it was exactly what she needed.

For you to consider: Is God asking you to respond “unfairly” lately with your kids or in another relationship? How are you handling that?


Amy Corley headshotAmy Corley is a wife to her Professor and mom to three children, two of whom she home schools. She blogs at Gift After Gift, where she writes as a way to grow her faith in Jesus and to make sense of this crazy, full of beauty life He has given her. (She’s also newly on Twitter — so stop by and welcome her!)

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  1. MotheringFromScratch says

    {Melinda} Such a great post. I can get very hyperfocused on “just getting it done” and miss the bigger picture. Sometimes the situation requires pure, unmerited grace instead of the logical consequences. Thank you for sharing!

    • says

      I think that shift was the biggest take-away I got from reading Paul Young’s The Shack. That relationship is everything…with God and with others. It’s made things a bit less crazy as we reintegrate my redhead home. Relate first, consequence later… 🙂

  2. ThandiweW says

    beautiful. I am so grateful for Grace rather than consequences. I have often heard the “service” exhortation, and I am usually spitting mad when it comes, But God…
    So well written. So very necessary.
    Peace and good, sister. Keep living your dreams.

    • says

      Good point, Chelle. And to note that we can feel mad and still serve first. By His grace we can love regardless of the emotions we tumble through along the way!