I was at a gathering the other night.
We were invited to stamp a word onto a strip of leather.
The word we wanted to focus on for 2019,
Or perhaps the word we chose for 2018.
I was immediately overwhelmed.
So many words...
I love words...
And to permanently stamp it into leather, well, what will I choose?
I thought about the Gifts of the Spirit:
Love (I love love.)
Joy (I'm pretty good at joy.)
Peace (I can always work on peace.)
Patience (Well sure, but how cliche.)
Kindness (I always try to be kind.)
Goodness (But of course.)
Faithfulness (Well, yeah.)
Gentleness (I could be gentler.)
Self-Control (Ugh. No. Self Control? Yuk.)
I took that as a sign.
I decided to stamp Self-Control.
It wasn't fun.
It's my least favorite of the fruits of the Spirit.
Probably because I consistently fail to control myself.
(Can I get an Amen?)
But...Love has elements of self control.
Even joy and peace require self-control.
Patience and kindness, same thing.
Faithfulness and gentleness, absolutely.
Self-control is the last fruit of the spirit mentioned and it seems pivotal to all of the others.
WE control ourselves...or don't.
As a child many of us were told, "Control yourself!"
At precisely the moment when it was nearly impossible because we were so mad or upset or sad, that screaming or crying was all we could do (as a child).
Self-control is usually addressed in failure...
When we get angry,
When we eat to much,
When we gossip,
When we overspend,
When we don't do what we should do,
Or do do what we shouldn't. (ouch)
But what about the positive qualities of self-control?
What about the fact that the only thing we can control in this life is ourselves?
Let that sink in...
We have NO control over anything else.
We can't control our kids, our spouse, our neighbor, our coworkers, our boss, our circumstances, our environment, our house, our job, disease, the weather...the list is endless.
We control nothing but ourselves.
We CAN control ourselves.
The enemy is prowling around, paying very close attention to the crop of my least favorite fruit.
Where self-control is plentiful, his power is diminished.
Self-control isn't the finger-pointing, condemning fruit we make it out to be.
It's power against the enemy!
So this year, as I contemplate my hyphenated word: Self-Control,
I'm not going to focus on my lack of self-control,
but how I can cultivate it in the nooks and crannies of my life and bind satan's condemning power in the process.
I'll try to pay attention in those moments when I don't fall to the floor kicking and screaming,
when I don't overeat or overspend or say that thing I know I shouldn't.
And celebrate the God-given GIFT of self-control.
Which brings another word to mind...Perspective.