“But the fruit of the spirit is,” the pastor started, taking a breath, “Love (me), joy (me), peace (me), forbearance, kindness, goodness (me, me, me), faithfulness (me), gentleness (we are talking about a man here, right?), and self-control (me).”
As if straight out of Bill Murray’s classic Groundhog Day, he initially believed he possessed most of the fruits of the spirit Paul highlighted. “Initially believed” might not be entirely true. He didn’t ever actually believe that he possessed the fruits of the spirit, noble as they were, but he wanted to believe he did. Truth be told, he just wanted others to believe he embodied them. However, time, forever stationed at the front of the classroom, taught him that when he wanted to believe he possessed some good quality, the ‘wanting’ indicated that he didn’t possess the quality. This case was no different.
Distressed, he longed for his morning slice of humble pie to be as effective as his late night bowl of ice cream. At his age, the used-to-be-surprising feel that came with knowing that he wouldn’t get it right in this lifetime had worn off. Now, he simply felt the distinct feeling of resignation. If he constantly put such effort into life, and perpetually failed, what was the point of all that trying? Just then, a story he’d heard as a child thrust its hand out in aid.
Once a mentor tasked his student to push an enormous stone up a hill. Struggling daily, the man persisted to no avail. Not wanting to let down his mentor, he woke daily with more resolve than before. Still he failed. Finally he gave in to anger. “Why?!” he shouted. The mentor spoke, “Do you not see the muscles that have formed in your arms? In your legs? On your back and chest?”
The desired moment of clarity came just within reach. He wondered if maybe certainty was left off the list above because you just never know. What was arrogance after all, but a more certain form of certainty? He knew both were clearly opposite humility on their continuum. Humility–the genus under which the species labeled above as fruits of the spirit fall–being the eternal victor. Humility–that special ingredient required in order to love; required in order to say, “I don’t know, but I know that knowing is not what’s important. What’s important is that I’m here with you now.”
The only way to get there is together.