Last weekend I drove to the beach with my little sister. She’s having a baby in December. We talked about labor and delivery and nursing and new moms and new dads. We talked about my daughters. We covered conferences, horse camp, mean girls and Christmas programs. When we got to the beach we joined over sixty women from our church in a ladies retreat. The topic was the Fruit of the Spirit.
If you grew up going to Sunday School you know that The Fruit of the Spirit is a common topic for kids. We spent time as children coloring grapes and oranges and bananas and labeling them with the nine character qualities listed in Galatians 4:22 – 23. We never colored in Apples. Apples have a bad rap in pop culture – they are always associated with the forbidden fruit that started the whole mess of sin and disease and death. Honestly though, I doubt it was an apple. They are too good for you. Also the climate in the middle east isn’t great for apples. Although our apples in Rwanda are doing amazing… But I digress.
All sixty women spent three days eating, talking, playing games, telling stories and learning. We heard speakers elaborate on each of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. For the record they are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I cried. Several times.
I cried when I listened to my dear friend Nicole talk about her husband’s fight with cancer and the Joy that only God gives. (You can read her blog at http://shougmama.wordpress.com/). I listened in hushed awe as Jacquee told us how her Grandfather exemplified Peace during his last days. Susan’s recovery from a stroke God used to grow in her Patience. I felt convicted and cried with Linda as she walked us through Kindness and Self Control. I cried my way through Faithfulness and stories of my grandmother. I hate crying in front of crowds. I really must start talking in public about things I don’t care about! Or take more Kleenex. I watched and cried as Jennifer portrayed what it looks like to submit with Gentleness. Karen explained goodness and guess what- I cried. Sunday morning Barb explained how Love is the embodiment of all the attributes. I sat with a loved one and we cried.
I always come home from ladies’ retreat tired, emotionally stretched and ready to makes some changes. This time I came back with some friends who promise to hold me accountable. I ran this week once. I read my Bible. I practiced piano with my daughter and I didn’t snap her head off. I did snap and bicker with my spouse. I overslept. I worried. I failed. But I learned something at retreat. The Fruit of the Spirit isn’t about what I do or not to do. It’s about allowing what God already did affect my heart. Out of that grows fruit. And tears.
My sister and I drove home together from retreat. We talked about the lessons of the fruit. We talked about this new baby that is coming in December. I want to learn the lessons at retreat so he sees consistency in his aunt with what she teaches him in Sunday School. What did you learn?