Each day this month I will be answering one question from these December Journal Prompts.
Day 26: What are some areas you’d like to see yourself grow in next year?
Recently, I was asked which of the fruits of the spirit (found in Galatians 5:22-23) I thought I most needed to grow in at this point in my life. As I went through the list, I noted that I was stronger in some areas than others. But overall, I realized that I could use some work in all of them!
Because here’s the thing—fruit doesn’t just appear on a plant ready to eat. First it has to grow! Without growth, a fruit will never ripen and become the delicious treat that we all know and love. This requires time and certain favorable conditions. The same is true for the fruits of the spirit in our lives. They need to grow over time, and they require soft, willing hearts in which they can develop and ripen.
I don’t know exactly how I will develop in these areas in 2019. But my hope is that my life will be like fertile soil where these nine fruits can blossom and grow. And I will be praying that God will water and tend these fruits so that, in the appropriate time, they will reach full maturity.
Perhaps no other quality is more important for a Christian to grasp than love. God himself is love, and his word says that if we live in love, we live in him, and he in us (1 John 4:16). It also teaches that loving one another is going to be the defining mark by which the world around us will know that we are Jesus followers (John 13:35). Considering these factors, I should always be striving to learn how to give and receive love better.
Joy has always been a struggle for me. I know that God wants me to experience joy, but fear and anxiety have a way of snuffing it out. For too long, I have allowed my stresses and worries to prevail over joy in my life. Biblical joy isn’t conditional based on circumstances. Instead, it is awakened deep in the heart because of who God is and what he has done. And since God’s character never changes like our circumstances, joy always has a reason to abound! I would love to see myself grow in this kind of constant, steady joy that stems from a confident trust in the goodness of God.
As with joy, fear and anxiety tend to wreak havoc on the presence of peace in my life. But peace means the opposite of anxiety. It means a steady, cool confidence that God is in control. And for me, I think it might also mean that you never get any face tingles! (If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out this post right here.) I’ve always thought the idea of peace seemed so delightfully enchanting, but it’s almost like I only ever imagined it as a far-off dream. However, according to the Bible, God wants me to experience peace right here and now… not somewhere in a distant dreamland. I think for me, peace is probably at the top of the list in the “most growth needed” category.
I grew a lot in patience this year! There’s nothing like having to sit in a chair and nurse a newborn for 8 hours a day to either drive you mad or give you massive boost in patience! Sure, there were times when I lost my patience with Avra this year, but overall, I think I did pretty well and learned a lot. But I know there are other areas of my life where patience doesn’t come quite as naturally. I often tend to want things done my way, and in my time. This is an area of growth that God continues to challenge me on year after year.
I passionately believe that as a Christian, I should be one of the kindest people around! But all too often my sinful nature rears its ugly head comes out in harsh sarcasm, defensive statements, or sometimes just plain rudeness. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I have such a deep desire to grow in this area of my life. It’s not that I’m one of the “mean girls”, or anything like that, but I think I could work on being a bit more kind, especially when I get overwhelmed by the stress and business of life.
I believe that the more I pursue greater depth in my relationship with God, the more my heart will be aligned with his and the more his desires will become my desires. So often in life, my desires are selfish and sinful. But God’s desires are always good. If I want to grow in goodness, I need to actively work to model my heart after his and to deeply desire the very best for others.
To me, faithfulness begins with a confident faith and trust in God. In some ways, I believe that I have a very strong faith in that I’ve been through tons of ups and downs throughout my Christian life and yet never walked away from my belief in God. But on the other hand, I also feel that my faith is weak because it is so easy for me to give in to my circumstances and let fear win out over trusting that God’s got it. I would love to see myself grow in faithfulness so that, even when trouble comes, I can remain firmly confident that God is in control and choose not to let worry suck the joy out of my life.
Gentleness is another one that I would put right up there at the top of the list with peace. I’ve never considered myself a particularly gentle person, but I have always deeply admired the beauty and strength of biblical gentleness when I see it in others. Avra has definitely taught me a lot about gentleness this year, and I hope she will continue to do so for years to come!
There were some ways in which I exhibited massive self-control this year, and others where it just went right out the window! I actually went off dairy (my favorite food group) for nearly six months this year because I thought it was affecting my milk and bothering Avra. But on the flip side, I ate a ton of junk food that certainly couldn’t have been good for either one of us! I don’t think healthy eating is the only place where a person should demonstrate self-control (though I do hope to do a better job of it in 2019), but for me I think it is definitely a good overall indicator of self-control in my life. I find that when one area slips, others are often not far behind.
I know that I will be growing in the fruits of the spirit for the rest of my life. So, this list is not unique to 2019, nor is it something I think I will come anywhere close to mastering in the coming year. But I do look forward to seeing how God will allow me to grow in each of these areas through the unique challenges and circumstances that 2019 will bring. I’m ready!