This morning, my youngest exclaimed “You know I don’t like waffles!” It was news to me since he begs for them consistently. It was proclaimed as an indictment against my motherhood. As I coached him about how to say things in the future, the mirror was held up to my heart.
My oldest son growled at me and gave a mean stare as I drove away from drop off…pleasant times. I drove thinking “He doesn’t understand my heart toward him–that doing the hard thing builds perseverance and character and matures him.” Then, the mirror was held up to my heart.
I sat to spend time with God, and the question bore into me as I read it on the page… “when you are tempted to envy the life of someone else, what are you envying?” (Paul Tripp)
In taking a moment for self reflection, I listed things like experiences, travel, regular experiences in life without the struggle. But, those were too easy, the real desire lies beneath. It takes time to unearth it. In my flesh, I want an easy life–a comfortable life. It is always my Achilles heel to desire that first and to pitch a fit inside when it doesn’t happen.
When I really take a deep breath and think on it, I don’t want easy and comfortable. The fruit of ease is: shallowness, selfishness, annoying attitudes, a brushing past others, arrogance, a demanding voice, a critical spirit, a lack of any grit or perseverance, impatience, a heart that is never satisfied and wants more and more.
As I am firmly middle-aged, I see a pattern in life. The stuff that counts and matters and is LASTING is formed in the hard. The easy we can do in our flesh. We can be in a good mood and look good doing it. The hard strips us of our facades. The hard shows us every place we are lacking. The hard is ugly and it shows our need for One beyond ourselves. The hard can bring rich, beautiful pearls and diamonds in our lives when we would easily settle for a sugary candy ring.
The fruit of the Spirit, which is the character of God, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22 Those characteristics are formed when we come to the end of ourselves. We learn patience in suffering long. We learn love in choosing to give up what we want in the moment for the sake of another’s good. We learn joy in the midst of sorrow. We learn peace in trusting God’s character when there’s swirling chaos all around. We learn kindness by realizing His kindness toward us in our sin, and extending that grace to others. We learn faithfulness from Him as we walk long roads of commitments for His glory alone. We learn goodness by reflecting on Him and seeing His heart in comparison to the trappings of what the world calls “good.” We learn self-control by knowing that our momentary pleasures are not “the end,” and there is a greater thing that compels and controls us.
Greg and I parent with an eye for the long haul–adulthood. We discipline and have boundaries and practices to teach beyond the momentary whim or need. We know what it is to walk in this world in relationships, commitments, jobs, etc. We do not want to send our children into the world demanding and petulant and ill prepared for hardships. We want them to live in Hope and Kindness and the Grace of the Lord. We do this very imperfectly.
How much more does a perfect, eternal, all wise, all knowing Father parent us toward the good? He doesn’t tire or falter. He sees with a scope we can never fathom. He holds all the mysteries of life, and yet He shares Himself with us. So, as I scream “you know I don’t like _____,” and as I scowl at my way of comfort being thwarted, I remember His heart. He knew we would need to remember His heart and character toward us. He knows we so easily forget, and that is why He told us through Jesus to be connected to Him everyday and in every need.
So, I remind you and me to connect to the truth of who God is in His word–to be reminded of His beauty, His heart, His character and His purposes. When we are tempted to accuse Him, we are missing out on so much more.