I am tired. I am emotionally exhausted. I am drained. I am spent. Yesterday was the peak of a lot of work, running around, emotional investment, and teamwork. We pulled off a memorial last night for babies gone too soon. Tears were shed. Hugs were shared. Names were read. I let my own tears fall, but powered through to share words of encouragement, to read poems of hope. I wiped away my tears and pressed on so others could grieve the way they needed to. I helped people in their healing. Or so I hope I did.
Last night when we came home, and things were put away, and the kids were finally in bed - I fell apart. I couldn't find any pajama pants because my house is a mess and laundry is here, there, and everywhere. I've let my home fall to shambles. I commented on being a loser as I slid into bed without proper pajama attire. Brent lovingly reminded me I've been sick, I've been planning a memorial, and I've been busy with two kids.
I started crying. Hard. It was finally my turn to let the tears flow. "I never imagined this would be my life." I told him.
"What part?" he asked.
"That my baby would be dead. That so many babies would be dead."
His hand on my shoulder, he squeezed with that silent understanding. Sometimes there are no words.
Oftentimes Little Miss is so enamored with her baby brother, she tends to love him a little roughly. She gets carried away and handles him a little harder than I am comfortable with. I'm constantly reminding her, "be gentle!" Now, as I sit to write on the fruit of gentleness, I realize I need to be reminding myself. "Be gentle!" Coddle. Cradle. Hold delicately. Whether it be my infant son or the heart of others, I need to be gentle. With my words. With my thoughts. My actions, for sure. Gentle. Brent putting his hand on my shoulder last night as I cried those broken mama's tears - that was gentle. Little Miss snuggling on her brother and not retaliating with shouts when he grabs fist-fulls of her hair - that is gentle. Me instructing with soft words instead of frustrated, exasperated raised voice - that would be gentle. Lord, help me be gentle.
I had spent the night catering to the hearts of other bereaved parents, and when the room was cleared and everyone but us had gone home, I changed into a mission-driven nincompoop. My stress level took over and I wanted everything to be done just so, and I wanted Little Miss to stop running around underfoot, and I wanted (desperately) for Little Man to stop crying, and I just wanted EVERYONE TO SETTLE DOWN! I was not gentle. I went from being a poster-child of genuine gentleness to a controlling b-word. Lord, help me to be gentle.
Guess what I have to practice in order to be gentle? Self-control. Yup. You think there's a method to the madness of spiritual fruit? When those verses were penned hundreds of years ago, do you think the Spirit said, "Hey Paul...make sure you include this, cause there's a gal, Val, who is gonna come along and she's gonna need to meditate on these words right here...cause she's gonna lose her crap a lot, and go bananas, and we're gonna have to reign her back in with these verses right here." Probably not, because the Holy Spirit probably doesn't use words like "crap" or "gonna". Even still.
Self-control - discipline. It's been a prayer of mine for ages. Not just to reign in the impulse-behavior and off-the-cuff-reactions. Those are great to exercise self-control over, absolutely. But discipline, in its very heart, is the practice of commitment. Self-control. It's not only the"don't do this" items of our life. But the "stay the course" items as well. Ever sat on your duff and wasted an entire day doing nothing? Me too. Sometimes we need those days of rest - absolutely. But if those days of rest are starting to get in the way of our drive, desire, and dedication - we need to reign it in. Be disciplined. Get off our duff. I can speak to this now, because I'm in a season of wanting to do nothing. I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I'm in a funk. So I sit. Self-control...I need to exercise self-control over my pouting. Over my disobedience. Over my lack of enthusiasm and energy.
Or what about self-control from over-commitment? Do you tend to double book yourself? Do too much? Wear yourself out? What happens? For me...I lose my ever-loving mind. I snap at my kids. My husband. Whoever else might be standing around. I harden my heart. Dear gracious. Reign it in. Lack of self-control leads to a lack of gentleness. (and lack of every other spiritual fruit...)
Gentleness. Self-control. Thank God He exercises these fruits with and for me. Now to emulate Him and His example.