Thursday, April 16, 2015

The one with the fruits of the spirit & my heels

If you're like me & you spent years growing up in the church, this verse is ingrained in your memory.  Thanks to years of Bible Drill, it's ingrained in mine!

The thing about verses like this--the ones that are ingrained in our memories--is that sometimes the route memorization causes the meaning of the verses to lessen in our daily lives.  Not that the meaning itself lessens at all, but that we glaze over the words as if to say, "oh yeah, I know that one."  

We've been home from China less than 3 weeks & this was the verse of the day a few days ago. You would think, coming off an adoption trip, I would be able to look in the mirror & say, "I am so blessed to see all these things in me."  


umm yeah...

There are many, good-intentioned people that think every couple that crosses oceans or opens their home to adopting a child would naturally have an abundance of all these qualities. That's what it takes, right?


BTW sidebar, if you need a daily dose of encouragement, check out YouVersion online & download the FREE Bible app.  You can get widgets for your homescreen with a verse of the day, receive devotionals (complete with reminders) directly to your phone, & read the Bible on the go in just about every language known to man!  It's great!

Please hear me, I know your intentions are meant for good; however for this Mama, every time I hear, "oh I could never do that.  You are amazing."  I cringe.

And I cringe HARD because I know just how broken of a woman, wife, & mother I am.  I know how many times I yelled at my children today & needed the "do over." How messy the house is. How I could make more of an effort with my hair. How I haven't worked out in weeks & am sore from carrying kids up & down stairs.  How much weight I've gained.  How often I've thought about how much easier life would be if we hadn't chosen to be obedient to the Lord's calling.

I've thought about it, trust me.

And better yet, JP & I talk about it.  Ultra-amazing hubbs, I know ;)

So a few days ago, I woke up in a daze, stumbled stealthily downstairs to the coffee maker so as not to disturb our minions, & clumsily read the words of this verse as the coffee dripped at what felt like a snail's pace to this exhausted Mama.  My first thought was, "oh yeah, I know that one."

My second thought was "sh*t, I am doing a TERRIBLE job displaying these characteristics to my husband & our children right now."  

2x4 upside the face. 

I waited for my coffee to finish & could not shake the thought of what a horrible, evil, ungodly person I am outside of the Lord.  The verse reminds us that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control are not worldly qualities but characteristics bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit.  I started beating myself up emotionally for all the stuff I've done wrong in the past few weeks....all the ways I haven't chosen relationships over right-ness, all the times I've let the little things blow my lid.

I'm really good at beating myself up emotionally, trust me.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this 'skill," in fact, I know I'm not, but for me, the worst is when the Scriptures are so convicting.  That morning it was as if a spotlight was shining on some of my biggest sins & I felt defeated. So this day was doomed before it ever began.

And Satan would have been happy if that's where this ended...

          enter a fortune cookie tangent, but stick with me here...

"When pushed, love digs in its heels."

I got this fortune out of a fortune cookie on Easter as we were eating our first Chinese takeout since coming home.  It was no mistake.  I decided it needed a home where I would see it everyday, several times a day.  Taped the coffee maker won out since the tatoo shop is no place for a 3 & 5yr old (but later...seriously!)

As I chugged my coffee, hoping to find a better attitude at the bottom, my eyes came across these words.

"When pushed, love digs in its heels."

Love digs in its heels.  Christ dug his heels to the cross so that I could know Him, so that I could know His love & pour it out to those around me....& I am stubborn as a mule.  Ok, we can work with this.   

I'm no Biblical scholar, but what the Lord has been whispering into the depths of my heart through this whole fruit-of-the-spirit-love-digs-in-its-heels thing is that He is who I should be turning to; He desires to be my source of strength.  


Christ understands.

Christ understands what it means to be called upon by the Lord to do something He may not have exactly wanted to do--in the garden before He is betrayed He prays, asking the Lord to remove the "cup" if possible:

"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  Luke 22:42  NLT

There is nothing about me that wants to live a life where I have to confront all the things I like least about myself: like how I am lacking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control.  I don't want to have to deal with the hard stuff.  I used to be such a 'good person' before I was a wife/mother. Ha. 

But Christ set the example that sometimes real love is a choice of obedience, one of respect, & I can completely relate to that:

"...but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going."         John 14:31 NLT

What I love so much about Christ's words here are that they prove that sometimes real love is stubborn as hell; rather, more so.  He could have changed the circumstances, but He knew what it was going to take to defeat Satan.  He knew it was going to take everything He had, & though I'm sure he wasn't excited about the pain, He was committed to the mission because you & I were worth it.  

You & I were worth all the pain, all the humiliation, all the hurt.  We were worth death. 

It's the most selfless picture of love the world has ever known. 

I am so blessed to live a life where I get to know the love of this Savior: the never-ending, unconditional love & grace that says it doesn't matter how much I think I deserve to be "beat up" for my faults, He refuses to do that because He died for my salvation & my sanctification. 

So this week He has been challenging me to view my actions through the lens of the Fruits of the Spirit~

Am I showing love to those closest to me, not just strangers & social media?

Am I filled with joy & peace that run deeper than my circumstances? 

Am I demonstrating patience? (ha!)

Are my actions kind?

Am I choosing goodness over selfishness?

Am I faithful; am I deeply trusting the Lord & His plan?

Are my hands gentle?

Am I demonstrating self-control?

Am I gifting these to my husband or demonstrating these to my children?

This journey is so much less about me fixing those around me than it is how God is changing me, challenging me to move closer to Him & His character.  And it is wonderful & hard, all wrapped up into one. 

I am so grateful He believed in me enough to endure the cross, so I can dig my heels in to show those around me His love. 

I am serious when I say I'm getting it tatooed one stay tuned ;-)

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