Honestly, I’m not sure I’d like to know how some people experience me.
There was that time, many years ago, when I got really irritated with an employee at a pizza parlor. Words are my gift and if I’m not connected with Jesus I can draw more than a little blood. I called back and apologized and she was so grateful. The level of her gratefulness painfully revealed how she had experienced me.
Each one of us is wired for a different purpose in the kingdom. Some of us bend easily, like grass blown in the wind, when someone pushes too hard. Others push back. Neither is wrong. All temperaments were created by God, just some need more polishing to let love shine through when they need to stand firm.
I used to think I was right about most everything and that it was my responsibility to educate those around me. Fast forward many years, and lots of skinned knees, and I’ve gained some wisdom and maturity to recognize that each of us views things based on the lens of our spiritual giftedness and our upbringing. Each uniquely different.
A friend gave me this great analogy to explain how giftedness operates: There is a party and a woman trips and falls, spilling red wine on the carpet. The mercy person rushes over to help the embarrassed woman. The servant starts cleaning up the spilled wine and the prophetic person says, “Honey, don’t wear high heels on a shag carpet.”
The gifts work beautifully together, just as God designed. But if we don’t understand how they operate, we may misunderstand why someone says or does something. Or we may find ourselves frequently misunderstood.
The Fruit of Understanding
TDH (tall, dark and handsome) and I are very compatible but complete opposites in our approach to life. The poor guy has endured years of me trying to turn him into…well, me.
I didn’t see value in his giftings because I didn’t understand them and they were so vastly different than mine. Where he would apply grace, I would want to apply truth (think the whole bloody sword thing). But we needed both. Truth without grace leaves us with the law. And grace without truth leads to permissiveness.
When my eyes were finally opened to the beauty in our differences, I was able to embrace who he is, not focus on who I think he should become.
God’s desire is for us to love and accept ourselves as well as each other in our humanness. He doesn’t hold us to perfection. He smiles and helps us up every time we trip and fall.
When we bump up against each others’ differences, God has equipped us with exactly what we need to create unity with the people in our lives. They are called the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23). When you find yourself struggling, ask God what fruit he’s holding out to you.
Is it Love? Joy? Peace or Patience? Kindness or Goodness? We also have Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control. We don’t have to muster up these attributes. He gives them to us.
So how do we access them when we are all kinds of frustrated?
By connecting to God. Our own effort produces smelly fruit through self-effort. It looks good on the outside, but people still experience the residue of our frustration because we haven’t had a heart change.
Heart change comes through hearing how God sees the situation and looking through His eyes. Then we can take the fruit He’s holding out to us and apply it to the person He desires for us to love with His love.
Father, teach me how to connect to you. Show me how to apply the fruit you’ve attributed to all the difficult situations in my life. Teach me how to practice applying your fruit and how to have grace for myself when I don’t do it well. Show me the victories You see in my life and help me to rejoice in them, even when they may seem little in my own eyes. In Jesus name, amen.
Photos via Pixabay