Thursday, November 2, 2023

Becoming Fruitful


Early this morning, I had a brief text "conversation" with a family friend.

I was inviting him to a few events I am attending this weekend.  He has been struggling with some key items in his personal life, so I figured he would need the brief escape as much as I would.

He readily accepted my invitation and then followed up with a few texts that were kind and thoughtful.  His words were sweet and encouraging.

His texts reminded me - "Keep taking baby steps forward. Keep your eyes on Jesus.  And try to keep your mental and emotional focus off yourself.  Remember those around you."

My friend had shown interest and compassion into my situation (without knowing any details) even though he was currently struggling with his own things.

I want to be like my friend when I grow up.  I want to be able to produce fruit even when life doesn't look like it's going to turn out the way I envisioned and wished for.

When my own life is topsy turvy, I want to be able to remain calm and gentle.  Loving and not argumentative.  I want to always remember to lay my hurts and stumbles at Jesus' feet where He will remove their burden from my shoulders.

Chatting with my friend was a good opener to reading my devotion this morning.

I opened up Scripture and found the topic to be (no surprise - hello God) "Becoming Fruitful."

Proverbs 18:21-22 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."

Verses 21 and 22 go hand in hand, even though you may think they do not.

Look at it this way, "If you want to reap a harvest of happy, fulfilling years married to the apple of your eye, commit to planting seeds through your speech with words that will bloom love in all seasons."

I'm working on this one!  I am definitely not quick to pull the weeds of negative and hurtful words.  Positivity is hard for me, but I want to be great at it some day!

I was raised in an Italian home, and if you know anything about Italian homes, you understand that we are super quick to draw our swords and lunge at each other.  We get it.  We understand it.  But, I have had to learn the slow way that most people AREN'T Italian and have not grown up in an Italian home.  They don't operate under our family dynamics of arguing, making up with a kiss to each cheek, and then following up by breaking bread together over pasta and red wine.

Think about this for a minute:

"What seeds are you sowing into your relationship? 
Be quick to pull the weeds of negative and hurtful words by repenting and asking forgiveness as soon as they sprout. Your speech is a reflection of your heart, so be intentional about allowing both to be sowed into and reaped with only positive nutrients."

When I was raising my two, now-grown boys, they would often argue and fight.  A friend of mine, raising three girls, had implemented something in her child raising that seemed to work.  I implemented her method of forgiveness into my boy raising, and it has really been amazing to watch the effects from this method as the boys grow into men.

When my boys started fighting, I would have them face each other and apologize.  THEN, I would have the offending boy ask the other one, "Do you forgive me?"  Adding in that extra layer of forgiveness was really hard.  It's easy to spit out an ungrateful, "I'm sorry," but when you combined it with asking your brother for forgiveness, well then - it wasn't so easy.

As the boys grew, I noticed they sometimes used this extra layer of asking for forgiveness on their own.  I also tried to remember to use it when I got into arguments with them as teenagers or even now as young men.  Today, I find both boys readily apologize when they offend me and both have grown into men with compassion and kindness.

In a recent conversation with my youngest son after learning of my recent heartbreak, he said, "Mom, it's okay.  I hate to hear that.  Call me when you want to talk.  I'm here to listen."

Wow.  I did not expect that kind of compassion from a 23-year old.  A little shocking to this Mama's heart to be quite honest.  But wow.  What a tearful and joyous moment on the phone with him.  I thanked him for his gesture but assured him I had my small inner circle to glean and learn from and also to lean on.

Circling back to our Scripture verse from this morning...everything comes full circle when we pay attention.  God seems to always be talking to us, doesn't He?

Proverbs 18:21-22 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."

Just one more example of what loving on people can do.

Through my recent heart hurt, I have asked God to teach me how to love without arguing.  How to be open, honest, and transparent with those I love.  To love others through God's eyes, no matter what silence, rejection, or hurt is bestowed upon me.  I lay all of these things at the Cross.

If our speech is truly a reflection of our hearts, I need my heart to change.  I want to see people as God sees them.  I need to be intentional about reaping only positive nutrients and letting people know that God loves them, sees them as brave and courageous, and as the divine creations He created.

This was a big lesson for me today, and I am so thankful I had a dear friend speak to me in such a kind manner this morning, proving to be an excellent example of grace.  It makes we want to strive to be better.  To be kinder.

Today, I lay my heart and my hurts at the feet of Jesus.  I know that won't magically make the silence or absence of my loved one feel better, but I know it's the right thing to do.  If Jesus can love people through the pain and torture of a Cross, I know I can follow His example and try my best and hardest to be as much like Him as possible.

If anyone reads this, I hope you are encouraged as well.  Lay your hurts, your anger, and your disappoints of life at the foot of the Cross.  Jesus is waiting to remove the burden from you.  Don't hold on to it.  Let it go.  And then walk into the glorious presence of His grace, mercy, and love. 

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