When I was in middle school, I remember going to chapel every Wednesday. They made us wear these really ugly plaid skirts and white oxford shirts. Yes- they had to be white oxford shirts. Our normal white polo shirts, I guess, just weren’t holy enough.
And when we were dressed thus, we sang many cute songs, one of which is called The Fruit of the Spirit, based on this verse:
Galatians 5:22-23Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
22 And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith,
23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law;
I used Young’s Literal Translation even though it doesn’t flow quite like the other translations because I like the words long-suffering, meekness, and temperance which are more familiarly translated as patience, gentleness, and self-control.
Long-suffering- what does that make you think of? Somehow I’m picturing someone who’s been at the bottom of a well for five days, singing “How Great Is Our God,” hoping that someone will hear even though his voice is weak and rough. The word “patience” doesn’t give me quite the same image. “Patience” reminds me of standing in line at Starbucks and repressing the urge to yank the pony tail of the girl in front of you ordering five impossible concoctions. Or maybe I’m just crazy, and the two words are perfect synonyms.
“Meekness.” I suppose that’s similar to gentleness. But “gentleness” seems more linked to grace and femininity, while meekness is a bit more gender-neutral. Meekness is close to humility, while it also implies gentleness. Yet, one could be gentle without being humble, right? So I like the use of the word “meek” a little better.
“Temperance” makes me think of ladies wearing way too many ruffles carrying signs with pictures of liquor bottles x’ed out. We can call them naive and misguided from our view, but maybe that’s what we all need as a society, more temperance.
I think what I’m really trying to say is that I like the word “long-suffering” because it involves suffering and not just waiting for good things to come. Patience is when we see the first streaks of dawn. Long-suffering is when it’s pitch black and the only light is in our soul. It’s a reminder that the Spirit will help us in our suffering, help us endure it, well, for a long time. And we will endure it because the “Love, joy, peace, and goodness” will keep us going. Somehow, we will keep going. Somehow, we will feel love, and somehow we will give love. I believe it, even though a part of me screams that it is impossible.