How’s Your Fruit Hanging These Days?

fruit-of-the-spirit-sampleI had some problems crop up this week that really challenged my desire to walk an authentic Christian life. I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian… I am always a Christian. Just, sometimes, I’m also a pathetically weak one.

Normally, when I am faced with problems that aren’t specifically coming from a person, I find it easy to trust the Lord and remain calm and optimistic. But when another person seems to intentionally cause me undue stress or hardships, that is so much harder for me to deal with. In situations like these, there is an actual perceived enemy to attack, and my natural inclination is to always annihilate anything or anyone I take as a threat. What can I say? I’m a warrior.

Since the parting of ways with my ex-husband, it is no secret that I have been struggling financially. Everything these days is expensive, but jobs are paying less than they once did. I feel strongly about Rebekkah earning her degree, and so barring anything miraculous, I am probably going to have this problem for another three years at least.

I’ve learned to trust the Lord with my very physical existence, be it food, water, shelter, and even clothes, and that of my daughter’s and the animal’s. Hey, we haven’t starved yet! But with large, unforeseen expenses, the stress is doubled because I rarely get large chunks of money at one time, and almost every dime we bring into the house goes to utilities, rent, or food. There simply is no extra to save for a rainy day. This rainy day was the fuel pump going out on my truck.

Without going into a lot of detail, I paid someone a considerable amount of money to fix this problem, and they didn’t, or 562621b2a11da903a2eb77d0cefe8084couldn’t, as it were. Plus, they don’t feel they should have to give me any of it back because they at least tried to fix it. For two weeks, I had been told that it would be back to me the next day. And then each day, I would be told something had come up and it would be the next day again. Finally, I told them to just tow it to a mechanic in town, and for days again, I kept getting promises to do just that, only to have excuses why it wasn’t done, over and over again.

Now, if I want them to bring it back, they want another $50 for gas and the use of their trailer. What a freaking nightmare.The worse part is, I work with one of these people, and she got me in some trouble with my boss with what I feel was a very misleading story designed to cover her getting trouble at work. She used something I consider to be part of my personal life as an excuse for being late to work. It would be understandable if that were true, but it simply was not. Text messages and times of phone calls easily disproved I had anything to do with her tardiness. And her lie painted both Rebekkah and I as the trashiest kinds of people. We were both greatly offended.

By the time I was able to piece together what she had said and why, I was beyond furious at her, and the people who believed her, and my manager for not even asking what my take on this lie was. Now, the problem was addressed, the truth was discovered, and all is fine now at work. But let me tell you, it was not pleasant, and I found myself distancing myself from people who had acted in a typical, flawed-but-human way.

Now, this is absolutely not a tattle-tale post. I don’t know where these people are spiritually, and I do know they struggle with their own financial difficulties, just like Rebekkah and I do. This post is about me, and about how I am going to react.

impossibleI can’t even begin to describe how often I run into people who claim to be Christians, and yet act in no different manners than people who aren’t saved act. I’ve seen people pray over meetings, sitting next to women they were cheating on their wives with. I’ve seen Christians do evil on every spectrum, and sadly, I include myself in this. The flesh is always in constant struggle with God, and always will be until we are freed from it’s deathly taint.

I know it comes as no surprise that I have a temper. I had much better control of it when Chef and I were together, but for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I have a shorter fuse than before. Maybe it is because life just seems so much heavier now that all the responsibility of it lies solely on my shoulders. Whatever the reason, 90% of my failings these days can be laid squarely at the feet of me losing my cool.

Up until this week, I couldn’t complain about my job or most of the people I worked with. But when all of this happened, I felt betrayed again, though on a much smaller scale than when Chef had done it. I wanted to use my sharp mouth to attack any perceived accuser. Fortunately, I didn’t. I can’t say I was sweating blood in the struggle to maintain, but it was close.

Throughout that whole miserable day, though, the Lord kept reminding me of Galatians 5, and how people who have Him working through them will show good fruit to any one watching. Here’s the verse.

 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire426532263_640-640x360 against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

      25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26

I don’t want to be the kind of person who talks a good talk, then blows my witness spectacularly having a temper tantrum. I don’t want to cause division and derision between people. I don’t want to be a big, fat hypocrite. I want every minute of my life to showcase God’s mercy, and His kindness, and His grace. I want this with every fiber of my being, even though I will often fail despite my desire.

downloadMy lesson from all of this is this: the real tribulation we should all prepare for are the tribulations we face daily in our lives as we interact with others who are also hopelessly bound to their flesh, same as us. It is infinitely easier to believe that we will choose death over receiving the mark of the beast in some hazy future scenario than it is to forgive the little, short-term injustices we experience at the hands of others all the time. If you want to be trusted with the big things, you first have to prove you can be successful with the smaller ones.

I almost never get through a time of testing without some failure on my part to confess, but this time, I think I have to thank the Lord for being so present in all of this, and for showing me what all of this was about without also having to go behind me and clean up yet another mess I’d made with my big mouth. Thanks, Lord!

As the saying goes, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. As time goes by, all truly saved Christians are expected to show the fruit of having the Holy Spirit teaching them. These should be love for other people, joy in not only your triumphs, but joy in the good things that happen to other people. You should be finding peace in situations that once were so hard for you to deal with. You should be getting more patient, kind, and good. You should struggle more against sin, and your faith shouldn’t be flickering. Your actions towards others should be becoming gentler, and you most definitely should be gaining some control over your own actions. 

I’ve got a long, long way to go before I can honestly say I’ve gotten the victory over my flesh. But after this whole experience, I can say that I’m humbled that the Lord continues to work in me, and on me, and through me. You honor me, Lord, with your love and your mercy. 🙂

~ Bird

 

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Author: Catherine aka "Bird"

Marketing Specialist Recruiter Freelance Writer Blogger

21 thoughts on “How’s Your Fruit Hanging These Days?”

  1. OOF, well said, Bird. More proof that you’re in my life for a reason. I am walking through a similiar situation that you helped me with over a year ago. It’s reared it’s ugly head again, and I cannot even tell you how strong the temptation is to shred those involved. I mean, they so richly, richly deserve all the havoc I could rain down on their heads. And I could do it so well, and cause WAAAY more damage then they are causing me.Man. Just the visual is so satisfying.
    Can I say my ‘fruit’ is doing that well? Maybe a teeny, weeny, itsy bitsy little bit. I am not eaten up any where near as much as I was. I wrote out what I would have done, to every mean spirited malicious damaging word and action, and sent it to a trusted friend, instead of the parties involved. That helped some, my friend read it, agreed they deserved it, and asked me if it would give me any peace with God if I did it. Well, honestly, no.
    All that to say, your column came along at just the right time, to help me inch along a path of peace instead of blazing temper and conflict. Thanks again, dear heart. -V

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lol..I think the temptation to wreak havoc is so much worse when you are naturally talented in the arts of war. I have the gift of discernment, and it is just too easy to know exactly what will cause people to jump off a cliff. That being said, the discipline for using a gift He meant for good, for evil is never, ever worth the six seconds of satisfaction you get from their misery. You did great, Vic. I’m not surprised. You love the Lord just like me, and we often go through similar situations even so far away from each other. That, to me, is proof tht the same Spirit is teaching us. Stay strong, my fierce sister!

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      1. “I have the gift of discernment, and it is just too easy to know exactly what will cause people to jump off a cliff…”
        That is in essence what is implied with ‘the knowledge of good and evil’. How is that a gift? That IS the problem with humanity.

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  2. Hey, Bird; asking for the Holy Spirit’s help is an ongoing thing.I get it, though; I find myself in the same place all the time. As humans, we weren’t designed to produce fruit on our own. We must be branches attached to The Vine in order to do that. (John 15:5)

    It would be like expecting a car to run without fuel. Yet we consistently expect ourselves to run on empty, to transport ourselves and others on fumes, to get from here to there on our own power. The Holy Spirit is our fuel, just waiting for us to fill ourselves. Fortunately, there is a free and endless supply.

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  3. That verse quoted about self-control from Proverbs at the top was originally “Like a city whose walls are broken through, is a person who lacks self-control.” Peterson updated it for the 21st century, but the original meaning is that you are open and vulnerable to attack if you have no self-control. So keeping it, and not allowing your ‘self’ to get out of control, means that nobody can hurl anything at you, or if they do, it won’t get through; your walls are strong and unbroken. Keep that in mind when you hear that inner voice saying “ANGER… RISING!”

    As I said on my own blog: “Jesus did not say ‘love your enemies’ just for a quotable soundbite.” And, hey, we all find it hard; that’s why we need his help to do it. Think you’re coping fine so far.

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    1. If I love my enemy, I have merely chosen another side of conflict. It is better to stand back and say, my enemy is like me, and I have been my ‘own’ enemy.

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  4. The hardest thing is to love our neighbors but you are right to trust God. We sang a song tonight at leaders meeting, “God will take care of me” and He will take care of you as gain your victory in Jesus.

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  5. When someone does something nasty to me I try to find out what is driving them.
    There is usually an underlying reason.
    If it is purely spite I will vent to friends.
    Or blog about it.
    Just get it out of my system.
    Having said that, if you push me too far, I will let you have it with both barrels.
    With bullies I find this usually works.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself.
    We are all human.

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    1. I’ve always agreed about the underlying reason for someone being nasty, and insist such people seek counselling, but when we’ve tried to suggest that our son-in-law needs such counselling for mental health issues, his own mother (!!) says “no, he hasn’t got any ‘problems’, he’s just evil!”

      I’m coming to the conclusion that he’s just a psychopath, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake across the lives of everyone around him. Thus I’m starting to wonder if he’s beyond redemption, which affects my faith. Back to the drawing board for me!

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        1. Can’t be done, I’m afraid! She’s an adult and capable of making her own decisions. Even parents who remove their children from cults and try to deprogram them have to be wary of being charged with kidnapping, and do it all underground. We have tried talking, but it just makes things worse, and this weekend, we’re facing her just NOT talking to us. We even took our granddaughter up to his parents’ place for a joint birthday party with her cousin who’s 10 days older, and our daughter wouldn’t even come with us! She insisted that HE be the one to greet us at the door when we returned their daughter, even though he has no desire to even look us in the eye (because we said he didn’t love her). One day she’s talking of leaving him, the next she says that they’ve to look for a new house together since their house is being sold. If anyone has any constructive ideas about how to tackle this, we’d be grateful.

          So we met with his parents again and discussed their son, and I got my eyes opened to all the ‘problems’ he’s told me about i.e. they’re all in his head! It’s a total mess, but all we can do is pray.

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          1. Your daughter seems to show the classic signs of victim syndrome.
            It is so difficult to understand why they stay in these situations.
            Often it is the belief that they can’t cope without the partner and that it is THEIR fault he behaves that way.
            It is a horrible situation as you don’t want to lose touch with your granddaughter.
            Does your granddaughter say anything about the way things are at home?
            It must affect her.
            Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is wait for your daughter to see the light.
            It is hard, I know.
            My younger daughter got hooked on drugs.
            Lived with a DREADFUL man and her kids suffered.
            My grandsons eventually came to live with me for five years.
            I sent her to rehab in a neighbouring country which crippled me financially.
            When she came out she told me I had enabled her to do drugs by taking away the responsibility of her kids!
            We later had a huge fight and she has not spoken to me for four years.
            Luckily I still have contact with the kids.
            So, I understand what you are going through.
            A virtual hug coming to you from South Africa.

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            1. Thanks for your comments, even though they’re worrying (muted lol). I know you’re trying to advise, and that is very difficult in such situations. I’ll not labour any more on it, partly because this is not my blog and it seems inappropriate and misplaced somehow. Our granddaughter is just turning 3, so she’s as yet unaware of the troubles (as far as we can see). Many people who went through this with former spouses told us that it took them years to open their eyes and really there is nothing we can do to speed that process. Someday, I pray, he will go too far and just nail his own coffin lid so clearly that even our daughter can’t ignore it. Soon, Lord, please!

              My own theory is that she feels sorry for him and that the whole world is against him, so she wants to ‘take his side’ – I have this guilt over my speech to her in the carriage before I gave her away, that she was leaving us to form a new family and that her place was with her husband – “even if he fell out with us for some reason (not that I can see it happening)” I ACTUALLY said!

              Terrible irony is that the whole world truly IS against him, but for all the right reasons (that bit is not just in his head).

              Very glad for you that you can still talk to the grandkids. Thanks again, and God bless.

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