What Do You Want Your Life to Be?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22
In addiction medicine, we often employ motivational interviewing to guide the patient to consider making significant life changes. Often, I’ll ask the patient to describe what his life is like now, compared to what he wants it to be. Usually, he describes the misery and chaos of addiction now, and invariably, he describes a life of sobriety, peace, and stability when thinking of his desired future. Then, I ask what he must do to get there. What do you need to change? Usually, he knows. He knows he needs to go to meetings, cut using friends out, and radically change his life. He knows he must stop following himself, surrendering to a much higher power. He knows the things he must do to grow a life of recovery, but still, all his actions right now are centered around using, which keeps him stuck in his misery.
I’ve been there. In the disaster of my addiction, I tried to find joy and peace, but I was never going to find it until I gave up my pills. Still, I tried to seek happiness in anything and everything else. I knew what I wanted my life to be like and I knew what it would take to get there, but I wanted to find peace a different way, because giving up my addiction was too hard. So, I just kept returning to my pills for gratification.
Now, I have the life I wanted back then. Instead of a life of chaos and misery, I know stability, joy, and love. What’s the difference? How did I find those things? I found them, not in seeking my pleasure or my will. I found them in abandoning my way and following God’s. I had to do what it took to live the sober life. In doing so, I was filled by his Spirit, being transformed so that I no longer desire to use drugs. In seeking the Spirit-life, God grew the fruit that Paul described in today’s passage.
So often, we set out to find peace, joy and love, but we seek the wrong way. Paul told us that to grow those fruit in our lives we must grow the Spirit. Then, as we live the Spirit-filled life, those things will be the natural byproducts. What do we want our lives to be like? How do we get there? Usually, we know what we must change, and we know how we should be living. If we truly want that life, we must do what it takes to get there.