How to Grow the Fruits of the Spirit
How do you want to show up in life? I think about this question every single day and I decide ahead of time what I want to demonstrate by my life. This practice led me to discover the fruits of the spirit and more importantly how to express them every day.
Most people live at the mercy of their feelings, believing that others have the ability to hurt our feelings, make us mad, or sad. And so because of this, we can be reactive instead of proactive in how we show up in our lives.
I was wrestling with the very question a few weeks ago. I had dinner with my ex-fiancée/partner and it went fairly well. Until I started blaming, being critical, and reliving painful moments from the last year.
I was holding him responsible for how I felt at the time and to some extent how I was feeling right now. This didn’t feel good for me.
Later that evening, I decided that was not how I wanted to show up in life and I made a list of how I did want to show up.
My vow to myself was that I would show up everywhere as:
Isn’t that how we all really want to show up all the time?
Then a about a week ago, I was reading Girl Go Wash Your Face and Rachel Hollis mentioned the “Fruits of the Spirit.”
This list reminded me of my recently-created list and I became fascinated by the Fruits of the Spirt, which by the way are from the Bible, Galatians 5:22-23
The Fruits of the Spirit
My understanding of the fruits of the spirit are that they are bestowed. As in, you pray for them and they come as some sort of reward. Yet, in talking with my mom, who studies the Bible daily, she believed that they were innate in us.
Here’s the thing. I believe that these can be developed and learned. Yes learned. We can practice and become a person that shows up with any of these gifts that we desire.
Think of them as being in you in seed form. Perhaps some you have watered and nourished. Perhaps some have been neglected.
Yet, in looking at the list many times, I think they all are wonderful parts of ourselves that deserve to be developed!
That’s the best part. You can decide to claim the fruits of the spirit and grow them until you are bursting with all that goodness!
Why We Don’t
Yet, at times, it probably seems like we act in the exact opposite of someone that is filled with the fruits from the spirit.
That’s because most of us think we are at the mercy of our feelings. We feel hurt or ignored and we act out in some of the ways I did at the beginning of the post.
It’s very common to get our feelings hurt. Someone does or says something and we feel hurt or even mad. Then we begin acting and reacting in ways that are not our best selves.
Here’s the thing. In between someone doing something and you feeling hurt, you’ve had a thought.
It usually goes something like this: “He/she shouldn’t have done that to me.”
Then we begin acting out of hurt or anger, rather than love, self-control, or patience.
You know what? Even though you may feel absolutely justified and every one of your friends agrees with you, that is not in YOUR best interest.
Benefits of Fruits of the Spirit
When you act from any of the fruits of the spirit, you are acting from your best self. This best self is aligned with your deepest values and always acts in your best interest.
You could literally pick any of these as how you want to show up and you can’t go wrong.
How to Practice the Fruits of the Spirit
If you want to start showing up in the world as a spirit-filled woman, then keep reading and most of all start practicing.
In each of the lists above, these are all qualities that I would love to be known and remembered for. I believe in living an authentic life and I believe that I can be genuine and develop these personal qualities as well.
How to Cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit
I love my original list and I encourage you to really take a few minutes and write down how you want to show up in life.
What kind of qualities do you want to embody? I mean that. These are powerful qualities that are visible to others and to yourself.
Whether you use the fruits of the spirit from the Bible or make your own, these are all qualities that you can feel in yourself and other people can actually see in you.
Put it in Writing
My original list is handwritten on lined paper. At the top I wrote, How I Want to Show Up in Life. I’ve looked at this list every day since.
Writing something down and then looking at it often, is a powerful reminder to yourself and your own spirit of what your goal is.
Life is really good at giving you many opportunities to put into practice, learning to embody these gifts.
I was sitting with an ill friend the other evening. She was confused and scared and taking care of her was difficult. But I remembered the second list, the one that included patience as well as kindness.
And I knew I could do it. I knew I could be kind and patient for as long as it took.
In fact, when you find yourself the most irritated or annoyed, I promise you, that is an amazing opportunity to practice growing your fruit!
Sometimes I just like to pick one word and concentrate on it for a day or two. It’s funny how much you will think about it and express it if you have the intention to do so.
Notes on Fruits of the Spirit
Love is at the top of the list because it is the most important but probably most misunderstood emotion in the world.
We crave love but we go about feeling it in all the wrong ways.
Here’s what I believe.
Love is something I feel to make me feel better. I create it with my thoughts. I don’t have to wait for someone to give it to me.
My mom has always told me that love is a decision. You can decide to love—no matter what someone else is doing or feeling.
When I chose to feel love for a person; I make better decisions and I have a better relationship with all people.
Sometimes, I chose to love and not be with or see a person.
Joy comes from doing the right things, from doing the difficult things, and from doing the things we never knew we could.
Yet, sometimes joy is just a gift, something we can experience in a moment.
I always think of holding a new baby when I think of joy. Reaching the top of a mountain. Seeing a child marry the person they love.
To me, joy is the little bit of life that shows up every once in a while, to show us just how good we can feel.
You might get a little bit every day or maybe just once a week. It’s special.
The trick is to acknowledge it and appreciate it.
Where do you need to practice patience? In the car? At work? In your family?
You can have good boundaries and still be patient. It doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you.
It means, though, that sometimes you can slow down and let other people go the speed that is comfortable for them. Your timetable is not someone else’s.
Choosing peace is a lot like choosing love. When you choose peace in your life you can let go of so much that isn’t peace.
In October, I exited a relationship that while loving, never was peaceful. I left still feeling love and not sure what the future would hold.
Here’s what it held: PEACE.
I still feel love for my person. But I wouldn’t trade my peace for anything.
Several years ago, I had to quit eating wheat. I loved bread and pasta. Yet, I was always sick. Within three days of not eating wheat, all my symptoms went away.
I never looked back. My gut felt peace and it was wonderful.
Do I miss bread and pasta?
Yes, I do, once in a while.
But you know what I like better? Feeling peace.
Do I miss this person? Yes, almost every day for a few minutes.
Then I think how good I feel now. I feel peace.
We can love people and situations and still let them go. In fact, if you do it for love, for yourself and the other person, it’s the best thing in the world.
As I write these notes, I can see how interrelated they all are. Choosing love and patience, often is kindness.
I often think of something I read once, that kindness feels better than being right.
If you aren’t sure how to be kind think about the ways that you like to be treated. When someone:
- compliments you
- lets your car in line
- smiles at you and says hello
- buys you a coffee or tea
- letting an argument drop
- admits they could be wrong
- asks how you are
- offers to watch your kids
Kindness is usually free, so practice it often and with enthusiasm!
What does goodness even mean. For women, I think we’ve often thought that we had to choose “good” over being authentic.
To me, goodness is being authentic and living aligned with your values. From that place, your actions better serve you and the people around you.
Acting in goodness, benefits others. Yet, we often have a rather narrow definition of what that is.
When you try to fit yourself into a mold that you think is good, you might be acting in a way that you think is good but you might be seething inside.
An example would be if you find yourself saying yes to things that you “think you should” do.
Whenever you have a should in the reason you are doing something, it’s worth looking into.
No one else gets to decide what your version of good is. For some it might be in some kind of service. For others, it might be creating art. It could be teaching. It could be volunteering. It might just be taking care of yourself right now.
You can totally practice goodness on yourself!
Faithfulness and Steadfastness
Who are you loyal to?
I write an entire blog about taking care of yourself and creating a life you love.
Yet, at the same time, we all strive to be faithful to people and things outside of us.
One of the things that has helped me recently is my steadfastness to my work, my blog, and the community of readers that have found me through my blog posts.
Trust me on this. All I want to do these days is hide under my bed covers.
Yet, this past month in February, I had more visitors to my blog than I ever have, over 40 thousand.
When I started my blog, I couldn’t even imagine that. I remember hoping that I would get up to 500 visitors in a month.
I was steadfast in my message and in sharing the story of my life in a way that would inspire other women to reach beyond what they could imagine.
My youngest granddaughter was born 20 months ago. I remember holding her gently in my arms. She seemed at peace and content. Until voices in the room would be raised—often just in enthusiasm and joy.
She didn’t like that. She liked gentle voices and gestures.
Most people do like gentleness. A soft touch. A calm voice. Gentle actions.
Sometimes I feel like the bull in a china shop. I can speak sharply. I can be too brusque.
I strive to be gentler in all my dealings with people. Not just because it can be the right thing to do but because I notice, much like my granddaughter, I like gentle voices and gestures.
Most of us struggle with this one. For some it is food. Others it is wine. Others it could be sex. Or even work.
It’s also the one we are the least compassionate with ourselves about.
I’ve heard women talk about themselves so cruelly about the places where they lack self-control.
Here’s the truth. Everyone has areas where they struggle with self-control.
Yet, we have this picture that some people have self-control in all areas. Those people don’t exist.
We’re human and we live in a world that tells us that we should be happy all the time. How do we do that?
We do that by overeating, overdrinking, overbuying, and over so many things!
You aren’t a bad person.
There are probably 99 ways that you show self-control and yet you are ashamed of the one area where you don’t.
I feel like I know so many of you now. I’ve heard your stories and you blow my mind with your self-control.
Remember all the ways you do show self-control. The other areas show you are human.
Growing the Fruits of the Spirit
We’re all in this together. Almost all these fruits we grow and nurture in relation to others. The biggest help that I’ve had with these areas of self-development has been with coaching.
Throughout my coaching program, I have had my own personal coaching week in and week out, for over six months.
I feel like a different person. Every single relationship I have is better. Not because the other person changed, but because I changed.
My perspective on my entire life has changed. It turned out that creating a life I loved was not about getting things or changing people, it was about changing my view of the world and by doing that, living a life, aligned with the fruits of the spirit.
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Hi, I'm Sara and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having.