And even though I accepted Jesus at four, even though my parents did a lot to assure me of my significance and security, even though there was grace in my house, a people-pleasing perfectionist was born.
I carried that through high school and college, into my married life and even into my job. I wanted everything I did to be just right. I never wanted to be rejected. And I never wanted to fail.
For the last three years, I was exhausted.Walking around full of love and joy seemed impossible. My daily prayer to be clothed in compassion, humility, patience, gentleness, and forgiveness (Col. 3:12-14) felt like a burden. Peace and contentment seemed so far out of reach. All the things I knew I should do and be and feel as a follower of Christ dragged me down in stead of lifting me up.
Then about six months ago, I started reading Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl, and I accepted her challenge to let go of the try-hard life in favor of receiving grace and restoration from Him. I chose to rest and remain. I chose to dwell in Him. I chose to abide.
And a funny thing started to happen when I did.
The love and joy that seemed impossible? The compassion, humility, patience, gentleness and forgiveness that was a burden? The peace and contentment that was so elusive? They started to come easily. Almost naturally. Well, actually, supernaturally.
I began to understand that sweet little verse in Galatians 5:22 - the one kids memorize while pasting pictures of grapes and bananas on the Sunday school classroom walls? It's true. And it all hinges on the first seven words. "But the fruit of the Spirit is..."
Everything I had ever strived to produce on my own was a colossal bust, because of one thing: I forgot I am a branch, not the vine (John 15). I was never designed to produce fruit on my own. I was designed to root myself deeply in Christ. To allow Him to fill me to the point of overflowing, and to live in that overflow.
It's another thing my parents never explicitly taught me. But in retrospect, I see it. They served, taught and raised children all at the same time and they did it with love and joy and peace that couldn't have come from themselves.
They knew what it mean to abide in Jesus. And it filled them to overflowing, producing the supernatural fruit that pointed all who saw it to Him.
Abide in Christ. Then live in His overflow.