Recently at Bible Class I was reminded of something that keeps pulsating through my mind: self-control is a fruit of the spirit. It is a gift bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit. It is not something we (or the Law) can pound into us.
When a child is not exhibiting self-control, I’d traditionally go through the paces of, “What have I missed that lead us to this point? Where am I failing? How could I respond differently for a better result, or be more proactive?”
In the weeks since that Bible study, my perspective has shifted. I am reminding myself that, in those moments, it’s a good opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to bestow self-control in increasing measure to that person (and myself, as my emotions can also be building at that point). I’m also reminding myself to be patient and “keep on”…keep on providing opportunities for hearing the Word, which strengthens faith, from which the fruits will flow.
Some may flow while others trickle–different gifts for different people! While I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for more of the “fruits” we’re lacking in, it’s probably equally important to be grateful for and conscientious of the fruits we’re abundant in. In other words, building up our children more than we’re pointing out their failings. Some days that’s tough.
When spirited little 4-year-olds have a very exciting day, it’s takes a concerted effort to build them up more. It can be impossible to prevent excitement from escalating to a level where everything falls emotionally apart, where all you can do is pick up the pieces. You do your best to look at the day and say, “Are all these activities wise?” I have this on my mind as I look ahead to this weekend’s big 5-year-old birthday. I will do my best to have a plan in place so that he doesn’t become overwhelmed and lose hold on the reins of his short stack of self-control (things like an early bedtime the night before and keeping close to him during activities so I can gauge his emotions before they’ve run away). To an extent, I just need to expect it. That might better equip me to deal with it WHEN it happens.
Perspective is key. “Can he be such a calm, sweet, well-behaved boy?” YES! Normally our time together at home in the mornings is very calm, sweet, and cooperative. The more distractions that come into play (i.e. “extra” bodies, less-familiar activities…), the more likely it will be for him to get excitable, irritable, glassy-eyed, deaf-eared, and rock-headed. I can’t put him in a bubble to keep him separated from distractions, but I can pray hard for him–whether we’re in the midst of turbulence, anticipating it, or looking back at it. By God’s grace, we’ll get through, and He equips us.
So, off I go to pray for self-control (for him) (and patience for me). Love I have–in abundance. How I love him!