Why It Is Important To Grow Fruit

I couldn't see the tears but I could hear them. They were obvious in the great heartbreaking sobs emanating from the backseat. "No," he cried out. "Oh no. Oh no. Oh no." The sobs continued followed by the spine chilling sound of snot being sucked up his nose. Perhaps it is just me, but there is nothing so grating on the nerves as the sound of someone sucking snot.

"Need a tissue?" I asked.

"No," he replied. "I am too sad for a tissue," he sniffled and then let out a piercing howl.

"That is an awful lot of drama going on back there," I said to him. It may seem as though I were being callous. After all, with such agonizing cries coming from him there must obviously be some horrible affliction happening. Surely he was mortally wounded or perhaps suffering some terrible grief. It was a form of grief I suppose, but not so terrible. Certainly nothing worthy of such dramatic caterwauling.

"I missed it," he continued to wail. "I missed the fun. I didn't get to play the games. Oh no! I missed the beats."

Well now he had my attention. "Beats? What kind of beats?" I knew he wasn't getting beaten at VBS, but as a mom you hear that word and something in you just sort of perks up.

 "We learn a new drum beat everyday and I missed it. Waaaaaaaaah!" Definitely not a beat that would hurt him, but I did register a bit of concern for what this would do to any chance of peace and quiet at home. There is a reason I have never encouraged my children to play musical instruments. That would be my low level tolerance of unnecessary noise.

"We are on our way there now son. Today you get to play and learn beats and do all that other fun stuff," I said in an attempt to reason with him. I never could have guessed that his allergies would kick in so bad halfway through a week of VBS that he would have to miss two days because he couldn't sleep due to stuffiness. I also didn't predict that I would lose sleep by being up half the night listening to him suck snot. Snnnnnnnnuuuucccckkkkggggh. That is the sound of snot being sucked, in case you were wondering. Ugh! Isn't this kid ever going to learn to blow his nose?

The continued bawling brought me out of my reverie. "I missed it for two days. Two days! What if they played a new game I never played before? I will never get to learn that new game." He was obviously in no mood to be reasoned with. It appeared I would need to try a new tactic. But what? What could I do or say to bring this distraught, slightly overly dramatic eight year old out of his pity party and get him to see the brighter side of things? Then it hit me.

"Would God want you to be so upset? Or would he want you to find the joy in things?" I asked.

He continued to sniffle and threw back an argument of his own, "I can't be happy all the time."

"No, you can't," I agreed. "But you can look for the joyful things and try not to think only about the bad." I finally had his attention. At the very least I had the sobbing and snot sucking on pause. "God wants us to find joy even when we are experiencing something sad or hard. Right?"

"Yes," he replied, getting his tears under control.

"Okay then," I said, "let's look at the good things. You are going back today, so you get to be there for the big ending ceremony. You got to go on Monday and Tuesday also, so you got three really awesome, fun days at VBS. You could have been sitting at home bored all week. Instead you got to learn new things like drum beats, and new games, and to meet new friends."

"Those are all good things," he conceded.

"Doesn't it feel better to think about the good things you got to do than it does to think about what you might have missed?"

"Yes. I had a lot of fun. Today is going to be awesome" And just like that, my son went from major meltdown maniac to Mr. joyful. All because he realized God's truth.... we need to find the joy in our lives. Always.

The ironic part of this tale? It wasn't that long ago that I was a pessimist. A very extreme pessimist. I could find the negative in the happiest of occasions. Finding joy in adversity? Ha! That was definitely not me. So what changed?

I started growing fruit. The fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   -- Galatians 5:22-23

It sounds simple, doesn't it? To live with those ideals in our hearts? In our very souls?
It is not always easy though. We have to learn to grow those fruit in ourselves and as the case was for me today, in our children.

The fruit of the Spirit are the nine characteristics of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us all. However, like with any fruit or plant, if you don't take care of it, it will simply wither away. So we must learn to cultivate these fruit. We do this by learning what they really mean and by then putting them into practice.
It was not easy for me to overcome my pessimistic nature and be someone who could find joy even in trialing times. With His help I have come a long, long way and the fruit of joy continues to grow in me, and I will continue to help it grow in my children.
Now patience? Snnnnnnnnnnnuuuuuuuucccckkkkgh! I'm still working hard on growing that one!