Pastor Ed talked about the fruits of the spirit at church yesterday. I've been thinking about them anyway...sometimes I find myself being so very ugly (to my husband, to people I love, or even in my heart of hearts - that no one but God sees). Seems like this is the new thing God is teaching me.
You see, I know all about the fruits. I have them written on my heart...I don't remember a time of not knowing them. I know that a person who loves God and lives in the Spirit HAS them...or at least is working on growing them. And yet...14 years into my spiritual walk, and I still have a long way to go on most of them.
Love - Boy, do I like to think I have it. And I do. It's not an emotion...it's a trait. I'm learning that slowly. But boy, do I need it NOW more than ever...in my home, in my classroom, in my marriage, with my family, with my co-workers, with strangers...Can they tell I have love?
Joy - There's another one. I sure would like to think I have it. Maybe sometimes I do. I used to be terribly (as in a good thing) optimistic....not so much anymore. Now I'm more of a realist. But with this new...I don't know...outlook, some of the joy is just sucked right out. But the truth is - I need joy...gotta have it. It should quite literally spill out of me. Maybe it does. But not all the time. He's gonna have to grow it back. Do people who have known me forever wonder where my joy has gone? Do people that know me now see my joy?
Peace - Now, this one...I'm really working on. Well, He's really working on. It's my life theme this year. It's what I am overall trying to learn above all else. And the song "Be Still" by Hillsong is the song of my heart. It's overflowing. And I really, truly, desire to have peace in all areas of my life. I truly want to live with less stress, more seeking, more understanding of what's really important. And to truly "ride" along with Jesus and understand, above all else, that He is God and I am but a broken vessel that needs to share Him with others. To look up in the middle of the storm, be still, and KNOW that He is God.
Patience - I'll be honest with you about patience. I feel as if I have a lot of patience. I deal with twenty 3, 4, & 5 year olds for 7 hours straight every day (and LOVE it, by the way). I can handle that. Sometimes in my personal life, though...I need patience. I need patience as I long to be a mommy. I need patience as we try to get rid of all our debt in order to live life Christ-like. I need patience with my husband, who is nothing but patient with me. I need patience with timing. I need patience when I don't understand. I think all of that goes with the peace thing God is working on in me.
Kindness - I mean...we all hope we're kind. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm very kind to my enemies. I definately don't go above or beyond the call of duty with them. I'm not hateful...but am I kind? Am I always kind to Aaron? Am I always what he needs me to be? Am I critical in all the wrong times/places?
Goodness - I always wondered what exactly Paul meant by this word. After all, don't we all hope we find ourselves on the right side of "good?" Eugene Peterson (in the Message) uses the phrase "a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people" to describe "goodness." I sure hope I have that. I certainly have a goal to have that (if nothing else).
Faithfulness - Yea, I'm faithful! I go to church weekly (x3ish). I read my Bible every day. I write in my Tjourn (Thankfulness Journal). I call my mom every day. I love my husband and wouldn't even look at another man. In my spiritual life, though...am I committed? Am I over-committed? Do I follow through? Do I do what I say I'm going to do? Do we, as people of God, "guilt" our way into "committing" to things in the heat of the moment (or question or expectation)? Do we mean what we say and say what we mean? Do we give to God before...you know...others or ourselves? I don't know...I want to examine myself intensely in this area. I want to be called "faithful." Won't it be neat one day? "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
Self-Control - Now this one...this is a toughie. I clearly do not have self control, though I long for it on a daily, hourly, sometimes momentary basis. I have 100 pounds to lose (10 at a time, over the course of years). But in the process of that is a re-wiring of my brain....of the relationship I have with food...of the unhealthy way I idolize good tastes in my mouth. This is where I need self-control. And this is where I will come out a different and better person in the end of this journey. Because one day, I will proudly say that I do have self-control. And until that day, I am seeking.
And so - I will seek. I will continue in my hunger for the Word. I will keep asking God to speak to me. I will be more conscious of the way I treat people, especially those closest to me.