Of all the fruits of the spirit, self-control is the one I struggle with most often.
Yes, even more than patience.
Even when I was pregnant, I wondered how in the world I would teach my children about a virtue I find so elusive.
Ten years later, I’ve figured out a thing or two.
First, I’ve realized I have more self-control than I give myself credit for. I really do. There is no other explanation for the fact that, even as I write this, there is chocolate chip cookie dough in my refrigerator. To say that I lack self-control or will power is a convenient excuse, but I sell myself short every time I do so.
I’ve come to understand the relationship between how much self-control I have and my overall spiritual health.
Resisting the temptation of cookie dough in my refrigerator is easier when I’ve had my morning quiet time. Of course, the opposite is true as well. When I’ve missed out on quiet time, I’m a LOT more likely to lose all semblance of self-control – not just around cookie dough either.
Secondly, I’ve begun to see that my children are developing self-control on their own. It’s not because I ever sat down and intentionally worked up a lesson plan or teachable moment on the subject. It’s because they are bearing fruit of their own.
That makes it so much sweeter for me as a mom. The scripture “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4) has become dear to my heart as I’ve watch my boys grow spiritually.
The cool thing is that they don’t even think of it as self-control. They think of it more as just doing what they’re supposed to do because it’s the right thing to do.
As their self-control develops, it paves the way for conversations like we had this weekend. It was one of those parenting moments where I’m trying to end the ongoing sibling violence and my kids are looking at me like I’m a space alien for expecting them to not hit each other.
So I asked them, “you know how you feel when you win a soccer game? It feels really good and there’s this small part of you that wants to jump up and down and call the other team ‘losers’ and do a victory dance right in front of them?”
They knew what I was talking about, but they looked at me in horror at the idea. “Mom, we would NEVER do that. It would be poor sportsmanship. It’s just… wrong.”
“Well, you know that feeling when you want to and you don’t? That’s the feeling of self-control. I want you to have that same feeling when you want to hit your brother and you don’t.”
Not only was their silence for over a minute as they digested this, they quit hitting each other for a few hours afterwards.
For what it’s worth, I’m feeling that exact same I’m-not-doing-a-victory-dance-on-the-soccer-field feeling as I sit here, knowing that there is cookie dough in my refrigerator and I am NOT eating it.
Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker writes at ThisHappyMom and has a passion for encouraging weary worn out moms to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination for eggs, socks, and books. She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. She is crazy in love with her family. She serves an amazing God. She lives an ordinary life filled with wonder.
This post is part of our 8-week series, “Spirited Mom: A Fruity Look at Mothering,” where we’re exploring the Fruits of the Spirit as they apply to mothering.
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