Managing Relationship Stressors

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!

In the Midst

Genesis 2:9

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What does it mean to be “in the midst” of something?

Dictionary.com defines “in the midst” as the position of anything surrounded by other things or parts or occurring in the middle of a period of time.

Have you ever wondered why the tree of life is highlighted as being in the midst of the garden God created? What is the significance of this detail that is shared with us?

A synonym for “midst” is “middle”. Being in the middle of something means the object or person is equally distant from everything else within a specified area. In Genesis 2:9 this could mean the tree of life was at the very center of the garden God created. Or it could mean the tree of life was simply among the other trees of the garden.

Regardless of its precise physical placement within the garden design, scripture is making a point to highlight the tree of life as being present and available to mankind at the start of God’s design. However, God restricted our access to the tree of life as the consequence for disobedience to his first command after Eve and Adam ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (See Genesis 3:22-23)

Right now, we are “in the midst” of His plan of restoration for mankind. But guess what? We will one day have access to the tree of life again!

Revelation 22:1-2

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

What does it mean to “wash their robes”?

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Restoration is God’s plan for those who acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. All who “wash their robes” in accepting Christ’s sacrifice (on a tree by the way) as the penalty for their sins will be granted access to the tree of life and its twelve fruits that yield a harvest every month!

In the meantime, we’ve been promised that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is with us to teach and comfort us while we await the final restoration. (See John 14:26)

May you be encouraged knowing the Holy Spirit is “in the midst” of your daily experience until the time of the final restoration.

Blessings, Barbara Lynn

Feeling Fruity!

Genesis 1

I’ve planted two fruit trees in my life time. The first was a cherry tree that had two varieties of cherries grafted together so that they could help pollinate each other. Sadly, I moved away from that home before I could appreciate more than a handful of cherries from the tree. My next fruit tree endeavor was a miniature peach tree in a large pot on my patio when living in Oklahoma. The harvest from this tree was also small but incredibly delicious before the tree died due to an attack of fungus. If my current dwelling had more sun and space I’d probably be planning some new adventure with a fruit tree.

Have you ever wondered why God created trees? The first mention of trees in Genesis specifically highlights fruit trees.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that is was good. Genesis 1:11-12 ESV

Then after mankind is created God says, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29 ESV

It is clear from these verses that God intended fruit trees and other seed-bearing plants to be a means of sustaining us physically. The phrase “each according to its kind” in the verses means God created variety in our food supply. I’m very thankful for this as I get bored easily if I’m having to eat the same thing day after day. Just ask my husband!

I was curious to learn how many kinds of fruit or edible plants exist. Reference.com had this answer: The total number of plant species in the world is estimated at 390,900 by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 species of plants are edible by humans. About 100 to 200 species of plants play an important role in world commerce, and about 15 species provide the majority of food crops. These include soybeans, peanuts, rice, wheat and bananas.

Do you think about this abundant provision when you eat a piece of fruit or other seeded plant today? I have grown very fond of a prayer of thanks and blessing for the food we eat that I learned from my husband. Most of the time when he offers a prayer before a meal he will include something along the lines of asking a blessing on all the hands who have prepared the food that is before us. This simple prayer of thanks and blessing makes me think of the farmers who planted the seeds all the way to the workers in the grocery or market where we purchased our food before we served it to ourselves.

Today before you eat your vegetables, grains, and fruits, pause and give thanks to the Lord for the amazing variety, color, and textures He created for our sustenance. Ask Him to bless all those who had a hand in bringing you this food you are about to enjoy. These seed-bearing plants and fruits are the foods God provided for our continued physical nourishment from the very beginning.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn