Spout ‘N’ Pout

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

            The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control. – Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)

At the beginning of every year, I write out my goals for the coming year. In January, I noticed that “lose weight,” “manage time better” and “get out of debt” were three recurring ones, going back years and years and years—and ones on which I’d made little, if any progress.

“Hmmm,” I thought in a moment of brilliant self-revelation. “Looks like I have a little problem with self-control.”

I’ve lost and gained the same 15 pounds several times now.

Time management is almost as difficult. One of my recent weekly goals was “be more realistic in setting goals.”

As far as the finances, well, we all know how impossible it seems to get out of the hole once you’re in.

But I’d been making progress—slow, but inching ahead—until I overdrew the checking account. I’d scheduled a credit card payment to be made on the due date, figuring one of my writing checks would cover it. Normally it would have, but the check was late—a week late. And I’d forgotten about the payment.

When I went online to balance the account and noticed the $25 overdraft charge, I was sick—especially when I noticed that it had been deducted within the past hour.

I was mad. Mad at myself. But madder at God.

“I’ve been trying so hard, Lord,” I complained. “And I’ve been doing so well. How could You do this to me?”

And I’d had such a good attitude earlier that same week when an order for 100 of my books fell through. “Oh, well,” I said at the time. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Then came the overdraft—and this cookie crumbled.

“It isn’t my fault the check was late,” I whined. “And, in regard to that canceled book order, I didn’t count my chickens before they were hatched. The guy said in the spring he wanted the books. It was only last week that I noticed the money would have nicely taken care of the fall taxes, the heating oil, and the car insurance. How could You do this to me?”

I spouted. I pouted. I spouted some more. I still maintained my peace about the book order, but I stewed and spewed about the overdraft.

It took several days of complaining to the Almighty that it wasn’t my fault, I had no control over when the check came in, but He did. Yada, yada, yada.

Somewhere during one of my non-spewing moments, it occurred to me that if I’d put some money aside as a cushion, to cover the payment should a check come late, instead of living from paycheck to paycheck, I’d have avoided the overdraft.

OK, so I knew that all long. I just wouldn’t admit it.

So now I’m trying to squirrel away a little bit every payday in a “cushion fund.”

Live and learn. Even in your senior years.

I don’t know if you’d noticed, but the past several columns have covered the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and faith. But I struggled with the last one—self control.

Sigh. I still do.

Dear God, I tend to forget that everything You allow in my life has a purpose. Thank You for reminding me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Galatians 5:2223 and Psalm 40

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

A Soft Answer

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The fruit of the Spirit … is gentleness. –Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. –Proverbs 15:1 NIV

Let your gentleness be evident to all. –Philippians 4:5 NIV

“I hate you!” screamed my friend’s little boy as she held him, squirming and kicking, in her lap and struggled to put sneakers on his busy feet. It was time to go, and the toddler didn’t want the visit to end.

“Well,” she answered gently, tying his shoelaces and planting a soft kiss on his cheek, “I love you.”

I was amazed. If that were me, I would have turned him over my knee and spanked his little wriggling behind but good.

As a grandmother, I’m much gentler than I was as a mother, and in everyday life, I find I’m holding my tongue better than I used to—except when I’m behind the wheel of my vehicle or when I attended my son’s baseball games.

Every driver who doesn’t use turn signals, passes in a no passing zone, tailgates me, slows me down by driving below the speed limit, or neglects to turn on the headlights when it’s hard to see because of rain, snow, fog, or dusk, is, in my opinion, an idiot. While I don’t succumb to road rage, my mouth goes a mile a minute and the words are none too gentle. Which is why I don’t have one of those “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper stickers on my vehicle.

And at baseball games, it was hard to respond in a gentle manner when the umpire made an obviously bad call that went against the team I rooted for, especially in a close game where one call could change the momentum of the whole game. Before the last series, I promised God I’d behave and keep my mouth shut. But when the home plate umpire called one of our runners out at second after the base umpire had called him safe—and from my vantage point in the stands behind the plate, he was safe—I yelled that he was making it hard for me to keep my promise.

At that point my husband turned to me. I couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed or amused.

“Behave yourself,” he said, nodding to the seat in front of us, where our grandson Brent, who had just started Little League, booed. “You’re not setting a good example.”

So I kept my mouth shut and only groaned when the umpire called a homerun a foul ball. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and agreed with my husband that the foul pole needed to be higher.

“I hope this guy doesn’t umpire any games for the playoffs,” I couldn’t resist adding.

That was years ago, but I learned how important it was to stop and consider what the other parents thought when someone who claimed to be a Christian yelled at the umpire like I did. Bad calls are part of baseball, from Little League to the professional leagues. While it’s okay to disagree, it’s not okay to be disagreeable and unkind.

Being gentle means to treat others with kindness, consideration, and respect because, no matter who they are, they have value in God’s eyes. Jesus set the example when He embraced the children the disciples tried to shoo away and when He had dinner with despised tax collectors who, to the Jews, were little more than scumbags, but to Him were hungry souls needing love, mercy, and grace.

Can I do any less?

Dear God, grow Your gentleness in me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:1–3.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.