These days, many things weigh upon me, in strange middle-aged ways. The weight not always is unwelcome, but has to it a growing depth, a deep rooting nature.
I was reminded recently of Joy. Once, many years ago, when meditating on the ‘fruitage of the holy spirit’ I realized I had some holes.
“On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. ” Galatians 5:22,23
This was many years ago. I had been reading this list of facets to the personality that are enhanced by the holy spirit God provides, and realized, I did not nor had ever felt what I would call, Joy.
I had gone through a lot as a younger person. I was not mournful or melancholy, in fact, most would describe me as happy, but Joy, to me, was different. Joy was multi-layered and complex, as the other aspects of the fruitage are. On the first unmeditated glance Joy could appear simple, somewhat unimportant. But, then I recalled, Jehovah is described as a happy God in many places in the Bible.
People take many things for granted, I was no exception. I’d read that scripture thousands of times and felt, yes, I display the fruitage of the spirit most of the time.
What I realized, is the fruitage of the spirit is not, ‘a display.’ No. it lives within your soul, and tho there were other aspects I needed to ask for help with and work on, I ‘felt’ most of them by nature, but Joy, Joy had been a feigned & elusive aspect. It was not a part of who I felt I was. Regardless how others would describe me, I knew, I was not truly ever feeling what I would call Joy.
I began to focus on this in my prayers. Asking for ways to find Joy. As a mother to three at the time, I felt ragged and exhausted all the time. I could hardly handle meetings & service and when I did go, I could smile but I was not feeling it inside. Prayer began to change this. Learning from the Psalmest so many years ago, I studied creation. I saw how kittens played. I saw snowflakes. I saw the way the sky breaks wide at dawn. I felt how mountain air itself was such a gift & source of Joy. I even wrote and illustrated a book for my children about where and how to find Joy thinking, this is something I must instil in them. I want my children to know and truly feel the Joy that Jehovah wants them to. They must be taught. I kept praying.
In time I stopped considering myself unjoyful. Entirely.
Recently, I was trying to teach one of my children about the power of prayer, which is only teachable via recounting your own experience with answered prayers and urging someone to try and see for themselves. I assured her that God does hear, as he says, everyone who asks for something in according to his will (1 John 5:14, 15) and in particular, if you ask for holy spirit, which obviously is evident via this fruit age and it’s attributes, it will be given to us. (Luke 11:9, 13) I asked her if she would describe me as a joyful person, after all, she lived with me, saw me good days and bad, she would know. She said, of course I was. I told her about the self I was when she was younger, and I told her, I am a joyful woman now, because of an answered petition placed over and over again before God.
After telling her this story I realized, that tho this Joy at times has waned, it has always remained strong enough to pull me back out of the mud pit life seems to become at times. I always love, and truly enjoy, meetings and the ministry. I am happiest when I’m getting there. It gives me strength and a consistent joy despite the challenges I face in raising a family. This joy, resurges, day after day and pushes back the minions of stress and despair.
Now to get to the title.
Once upon a time I would have said I had Faith; Faith like a rock, so heavy and thick and sure, it could crush any other thing brought against me. My Faith when I was young helped me and carried me, when Joy and Love and Hope were weak, Faith had been my rock. Jehovah and I had built a solid foundation of Faith in my heart.
But, like my energy, my Faith over time has faded. It’s fallen into what I could say is, a state of disrepair—my foundation was cracked and the rain is always heavy. It weeps and shifts. It is weak.
As with Joy, this may be only known and visible to me, well, me and my Maker. I began to meditate on this, analyze where these cracks were, and pray. I’ve been praying about my weak Faith for some weeks. I’ve been praying, but feeling, I’ve not really gotten much of ‘a hearing ear’ yet on the issue. Then, this past week’s Watchtower, “Strengthen Your Faith in What You Hope For.” Are you kidding me? And the Watchtower for this week, “Exercise Your Faith in Jehovah’s Promises.” Well, these articles and scriptural references are ridiculously deep and on point.
These articles are the repair crew showing up to do the work. They will teach me and encourage me, with Jehovah’s help, to strengthen this vital aspect of the fruitage of his spirit. I asked, incessantly. It weighed upon me in a way I couldn’t carry, the knowledge that I lacked Faith in so many areas. I wanted to fix it but found I was lacking in skill. I was truly struggling to know what to do, despite meetings and study. It was silly, but I began to wonder if this time, Jehovah would answer me. Perhaps, I thought, my faults had caught up with me in an irrepairable way. Perhaps I truly was unworthy of this gift. I felt like I was mimicking the actions, but they were baseless, as I had with Joy all those years ago. I too, prayed about this, apologizing, that I was a fake.
Then, these articles.
What can I say? Jehovah knows me. He does not vaguely see who I am, but, knows me, as even I do not know myself. He knows me deep into my psyche and knows just when to answer me; how to reach my heart; how to heal me. He sees all I am, and answers me just as I need to be answered, so that I, hear Him. What a wise God.
So, I have yet to do all the additional reading associated with these articles, but they are on my personal study list, and the scriptures in these articles are in my heart. Slowly, Jehovah is training me on how to build, surely rebuild, my faulty faith into the sure Faith that his holy spirit provides us each with, if we are willing to work along side Him, listening and joyously eager to move forward, toward, the next step we must take in this journey of life with Jehovah. I have a Father who hears me and talks with me, closely, quietly, but with such strength and compassion. I am so thankful for that.
How I wish others would know, they have a Father just waiting for them to seek Him out and discover Him. He is drawing each right hearted person at the right time, if only they would come learn from Him when they are drawn. I do not know what other comfort there is in the world, then in the safety of this hope Jehovah provides. How do they all survive?