"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
The last fruit listed is perhaps the most difficult. Because self-control is more than just learning to control my behavior. On a deeper level, it's a call to set aside my need or desire to be in control, and to place myself...my loved ones...and all circumstances under God's sovereign control.
This is only possible when I am walking in close step with my Creator, moment by moment. And when I get myself in this position, I begin to see how foolish I am to cling to my desire to control anything. I think I know best, but I can only see a few small pieces of a vast, expanding puzzle. My attempt to control is like trying to navigate in complete darkness with an occasional flicker of candlelight. I can't possibly know what's ahead.
One of my greatest sources of frustration is tangled in the misconception I can or should try to control the path and the outcome in someone else's life. I create enough havoc in my own journey when I insist on doing things my way, in my timing, as I see fit. But taking it a step further and applying it to someone else's life can be disasterous. Why do I try to fill the shoes that only God is meant to wear?
I have walked through my share of painful stuff ~ experiences I or a loved one endured. And the biggest lesson I learned during those trials is to let go of the steering wheel and trust God to do the work that only He can do...especially when it involves a loved one.
My perceptions are so limited and skewed, and my wisdom always falls short. The steadfast message that God repeatedly gives me regarding others is, don't try to fix them. Don't attempt to make it all better. Don't step in to solve their problems. Just love them. LOVE THEM. ALWAYS. EXTRAVAGANTLY. UNCONDITIONALLY. TANGIBLY. Just love them.
Maybe it was my grandma's example that helped me see the heart of this fruit called self-control. She exemplified this priceless fruit every day of her life. Even more powerful was the humility and poise in which she carried herself through the ups and downs, the celebrations and the heartaches. She seemed to have no problem letting go of the wheel, and trusting that everything would turn out just as it was supposed to. Her quiet strength was certainly a result of putting to rest any need to control. I loved that about her.
Sure, I can apply the topic of self-control to my longing for a new dress I can't afford or the plate of cookies on the counter calling to me. But there's more meat to this fruit. And though it hasn't been easy or pleasant, I wouldn't trade what I have come to know over the years walking some difficult paths. Every day...every moment...presents a choice of who is in control. And today, I choose to let go, and let God.
"How appropriate that the list of qualities began with love and ends with self-control. Love keeps us afloat, and self-control keeps us anchored."
"Some of us wonder why our lives are such a tangle; if we wonder why we seem to live in an inner jungle; if the soil of our souls seems to be buried beneath a bramblelike growth of unchecked, uncontrolled wild vines, it is because we have not allowed ourselves to be brought under the control of the Good Gardener. We simply don't want Him interfering in the grounds of our lives."
~W. Phillip Keller