Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. — Helen Keller
A scene from my brother’s long-time-ago wedding is stored in my memory bank like a picture stored in a camera.
My three-year-old niece, Dawn, adorable in white eyelet dress sprinkled with tiny yellow rosebuds, flung flower petals from a frilly white basket. Firm resolve etched on her little face, Dawn tossed a handful of petals to the left, took a few steps, and then tossed a handful to the right. Delighted family and friends smiled at her stellar performance. Eventually, Dawn’s task was completed. My brother’s soon-to-be wife had traveled over the pedals, and her hands joined with those of the nervous groom.
As sacred vows began, little Dawn returned to her parents. From the pew behind them, I watched Dawn, in typical three-year-old fashion, squirm on her daddy’s lap. Dana whispered into his little daughter’s ear, “Dawn, you need to be good!” After considering briefly the reproof, Dawn’s chubby little hands grasped Dana’s cheeks. Gazing at him with her saucer-round, bright blue eyes, the toddler whined in a too-loud whisper, “But Daaa-deee, I don’t wanna be good!”
I imagined my young niece must be thinking: “Don’t you know, I’ve already been good? Didn’t you see how well I threw those petals? I’m tired of being good!”
Dana, always a patient and loving father, managed to distract his fidgety child until the ceremony concluded.
My temperament is generally optimistic and pragmatic. I experience only occasional bouts of melancholy. I rarely meet a person I don’t like, and my feelings are not usually hurt. But, a few years ago, I’d been traveling through a difficult season. Obstacles seemed to confront me at every bend in the road. My soul was weary. I felt worn out physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I wasn’t praying much, and when I did, I confess my prayers were pretty whiny.
A still small voice within cautioned me to be wary of bitter roots beginning to grow in the soil of my heart. The voice warned, Even a little shoot has the potential to become a monstrous vine causing serious damage to the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control[i]—maturing in you.
It was during this season the scene from my brother’s wedding flashed once again into my mind.
While the small voice admonished, the realization hit me. Like my niece, I’d been whining, But, Abbb-aaa[ii], I don’t wanna be good! Haven’t you noticed how good I’ve been? Haven’t you seen how hard I’ve been trying? I’m tired of being good!
The voice of my Heavenly Father, always gentle and patient, reminded me of my desire to be a grown-up, mature woman of God. The tone of the Divine voice convinced me God knows, God sees, and God possesses the remedy I need.
So, what type of turnaround does a woman trying to grow-up in her faith do during times like the one I experienced?
I began praying more, and as I prayed, obstacles were illuminated in the light of heavenly truth. I asked for wisdom that transcends my own. New ideas began emerging, and along with new ideas, new hope ignited. With hopeful heart, I imagined the Fruit of the Spirit was once again maturing.
The difficulty of my turbulent circumstances felt less burdensome when viewed through the lens of my Abba Father’s good and faithful character.
I’m grateful for the picture embedded in my memory of Dawn’s naughty wedding behavior. I see how her childish petulance parallels my sometimes spiritual poutiness.
Chaotic, confusing seasons are taxing. It’s easy to become weary when we’re trying so hard to be “good.” Such times often reveal spiritual immaturity and preoccupation with self, but I’ve found it’s been during such times that I have become more aware of the kindness and patience of Abba, my Heavenly Father.
As I transition through the unsettling time, I begin to see the rightness of God’s ways. Eventually, I choose to proclaim, “Yes, Father.” instead of whining, “But Daddy, I don’t wanna…”
Peace on your journey…
My husband captured this amazing scene while paddling in his kayak on Wolfe Lodge Creek. Ron said the wind suddenly stopped blowing, and the water became clear as glass. Isn’t that the way of life sometimes? Everything seems chaotic, confusing, swirling every which way, and then, all of a sudden, clarity is achieved.