But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23.
It has been such a life-changing period of time for my family and I throughout the last year. It is truly amazing how simply choosing a different attitude can transform one into a totally different individual. My part in the change of the family started with a specific choice, and it developed through the verse in Galatians.
“Be kind.” This short little phrase was the basis for my attitude, and it has really been the focal point at the beginning of each day. Thank God.
I was visiting with a therapist for several months up until the middle of August. Mike was a man who’d meet with me on Thursday nights. My son and I were really going head-to-head for the past several years. We would sometimes be in each others’ faces, screaming and on the verge of battle. Mind you, I’m an adult and he is a child. My kid has been through so much from being a boy with little biological fatherly influence. It really has taken its toll on him. He is also the middle child; always competing with his older brother and younger sister. He was upset with me because I stepped into his family and took his mom away from him. I guess? That’s what we have gathered anyway. Also, he has been through some awful experiences with me. I honestly was a verbally abusive, angry and nasty guy whose own battles were manifesting outwardly. My substance abuse withdrawal, church abuse experience, chemical imbalances, choices and ignorance were all playing a part in the distance between not only my kid, but my wife and other two children. In fact, it was my whole family on both mine and my wife’s side who received the undeserved consequences of my choices.
I was truly a mess. But, I praise God for His way of allowing me to go through my time alone with no one but Him and myself. It was during that time that something began within which changed my whole perspective. I emphasize how it was only the beginning because many different changes have occurred since. Those changes have been hard because of the intertwined growth of both my son and I. We have had a hard time reaching a place of forgiveness within our relationship. It has been difficult for him to forgive me, and difficult for me to forgive myself. It has taken so much out of both of us.
Within my time of growth with my therapist, I would often just talk about how hard it is for me to be a stepparent, a father to three and a husband to a woman whose ex was physically and verbally abusive. He would give me pointers on how to simply walk away from those things that would cause me to get upset within our home. He would ask me questions about how and what my inner frustrations have stemmed from. It was evident that most of my problems derived from the learned behaviors of childhood and bluntly put; being spoiled. That made a lot of sense in my perspective. I was an only child and there was no competition when I was growing up. I watched my parents scream and hit.
Perhaps I was also unknowingly competing for position within a ready-made family? I have no biological children. It had always just been me and a relationship with women who had no children. It is also difficult being a parent to those who are not really your blood. So many different issues. So many different loose ends that can never really be secured.
Mike and I really had some interesting talks. He would tell me that I was much further ahead of the game than I realized based on what I would tell him. He knew that I wanted things to be better and the work that I was doing on my own reflected that desire. It wasn’t long before I began to practice his advised methods of “walking away.” If something made me angry in our home, I’d take a walk. Sometimes I’d simply go into another room. It was a few simple methods which brought me to a different kind of peace within.
The fruits of the Spirit was something I had focused on throughout my walk with the Lord. It was really not until I began to watch Bob Beeman videos that the true message of those fruits of the Spirit began to speak to my heart. It is interesting to see just how those fruits are what I soon began to focus on after Mike had simply told me to “be kind.”
I had this made. It now hangs high on our wall. It became a very important focus for me as I began to see just how much “being kind” has to do with His fruit. Truly, all of the fruits, beginning with love, then joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are really what I should always keep within my heart and mind. It is displayed so my children can also see what His fruit is. As I walk past the display, it is a constant reminder of how a choice to be kind is a direct characteristic of Christ within.
My son, family and even myself are getting along pretty well these days. I praise Him a lot for all of the growth and provision He has provided. It is through His strength I am strengthened. It is within His grace I am changing. It is His Holy Spirit who speaks life into my struggles. It is a true blessing to know that His fruits are of such nourishment.