Are these fruits evident in your relationships when under stress?
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I was recently in a meeting when the team was asked by the leader to take a moment to look at Galatians 5:22-23 and consider which fruit of the Spirit we struggled with the most in our relationships.
My first reaction to this question was to think it varied for me based on circumstances. Afterall, circumstances and people are all unique so what I might struggle with in one relationship could possibly be different in another one.
Then as I listened to a team member share their reaction to the question, I started to think I about asking those closest to me which fruit of the Spirit theyv’e observed I consistently struggle with in my relationships.
As the day progressed, I began to think of times when I’ve “lost it” with another person. This reflection finally yielded my answer to the question.
Ironically, the fruit of the Spirit I struggle with the most is also the one I tend to receive praise for from those in my work place settings, family members, and even close friends. When I’ve received this praise in the past, I’ve been a bit baffled because I knew what they were thinking they saw in me was far from the reality going on internally.
As I began sharing this information with my husband, but before I revealed what I had determined is my greatest struggle, he named it! After living with me for almost 30 years my husband has had plenty of opportunity to see how I process relationship stressors. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he could easily answer the question on my behalf. That he knew what I was going to say made me smile.
I seldom display what I’m truly struggling with in a relationship situation when I’m feeling irritated, frustrated, even angry, with the person in front of me. Many have praised me for having great patience in these moments. Even people whom I would’ve liked to tear to shreds have praised me for being patient!
But I know better. And my husband knows better. The gift that is truly being exercised in those moments is not patience but a heightened moral compunction towards self-control. Why do I say this?
Well if it was patience that is being exercised in these situations, I wouldn’t need to find a safe place and time to vent my frustrations or anger over the situations that irritated me! Sometimes my husband has helped me process my venting by being a safe sounding board. But most of the time I tend to vent when I’m alone. My husband has discovered me in the process of venting at times!
Several things are essential for me to be able to avoid “losing it” with anyone. First, I need to spend time with the Lord consistently and intently. Studying His Word and listening for His counsel above all others. Secondly, I need to take good care of my physical body with proper rest, exercise, and food choices. In addition, I need to limit my activity load so that the first two items are not neglected.
Granted life throws curve balls at me that I can’t always predict. And yes, no matter how well I’ve been practicing the things mentioned above, there are certain situations that somehow or another push my buttons in a negative direction. Thankfully, by God’s grace in granting of the heightened ability to exercise the fruit of self-control, it is rare for me to “lose it” in a situation.
How about you? Which fruit of the Spirit do you struggle with the most? Send me your thoughts on this topic!