God has been working on my anger, stubbornness, and exaggeration issues. I know this because in all the study I am doing the words jump out at me to be in line with the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23. In contrast, scripture clearly describes what is considered sin in the desires of our flesh: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” – Colossians 3:8-10
I have also seen, through the study of Genesis, that what who we are as parents is passed down to the next generation. If we are to have our children change, we must first change ourselves. Here’s the crazy part: I can’t change me. Though I have been set free from the chains and power of sin that kept me from seeing the Father, I am still vulnerable to, and living in, the presence of sin. My flesh (my worldly desires & traits) are still hanging around, even though I have been given the power to eradicate them through the Spirit. That power that gave me life in Christ, is the same power that I now must look to for the transformation and sanctification of my soul.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” – Romans 8
Yesterday afternoon Ethan was playing with his friend Lila when she decided she wanted to go home. I told her it was ok to go, and while she was leaving Ethan threw a HUGE fit. His anger rose up and he made a horrible growling noise. Unfortunately, I know that this behavior came from watching me in times past. I calmly told him to go to his room to settle down. While he was in there I heard his anger flare up and down…. so I went to check on him.
We talked about how Lila does not live here, and that if she wants to go home and be with her family that she is allowed to do that. We cannot, and should not be angry at her for wanting to go home. Ethan agreed with me, but was still very upset. He said he wanted to watch a cartoon in the living room so I said that was fine, and I went back to the kitchen. Suddenly I heard a loud, mournful groan and screaming, “Carry Me! Carry Me! Carry Me!…” (and so on).
I walked back to his room. He said he wanted me to carry him to the couch. I told him that I was not going to comfort him because of his anger…that it was not ok to be angry. He told me that he could not stop being angry and began calling out again, “Carry Me! Carry Me! Carry Me!…”. Suddenly a wave of poetic symmetry rushed over me.
“Ethan, there is only one who can help us with our anger, and we must cry out to Him to carry us. Close your eyes, and cry out to Jesus to carry you. Say, ‘I cannot do this on my own! I cannot stop this anger inside of me, and I need your help! Only you can carry me!'”
I came over to him and held him, and I explained that I would carry him to the couch because I wanted him to know that this is what Christ has done for us. He makes a way for us to get rid of these things of the flesh, like anger, but we have to ask to be carried. What happens in that moment of surrender is something that stays with you. You know He is there, and that all He wants is for you to give yourself over to him, fully… your entire self.. to be carried. Ethan became calm, and even pliable.. teachable. The same is true of us.
How wonderful it is when you can see God’s mercy lived out in a sort of ‘practical application’ way. If my mind can stay on the things of Christ, and if I am able to call on Him during my times of frustration, anger, or any other thing that I know is not of the Spirit, He will pick me up and carry me through to victory. It is really that simple, but we must deny ourselves, and allow Him the honor of holding us.
6 Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.