For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control.

                                 -2 Timothy 1:7

 

I got into several fights with my teenager the other day.  The last of them was at dinner when I asked him to use his fork instead of his fingers to eat his green beans. I can’t believe I’m still having to remind him to use a fork at dinner.  What am I doing wrong?  It’s such a little thing but we battled over it. I yelled across the table about how disrespectful it was to continue using your hands after I asked him not to.  He yelled that he didn’t hear me.  After finishing the meal in tears, I walked outside to get some fresh air.

I’m great at numbing.  I’m great at ignoring the problems altogether and pretending nothing ever happened. But I knew I needed to process what was going on.  What made me so upset? I prayed as I my eyes searched the backyard for answers.  God, what is going on?  It’s my job to teach my kids table manners.  I don’t feel sorry for requiring him to use a fork.  This is so stupid, I can’t believe I’m even having this conversation.  What is behind all of this emotion?

Control. 

Yes, I want to teach my kids table manners, but more importantly in these situations I want control and so does my son.  This is the core of all of our battles. God made this clear while I was talking to him in the backyard.

God, you do not give me a spirit of wanting to control everything.  I know that’s not from you.  What is the verse?  You give me a spirit of…

Power, love, and self-control. 

I couldn’t remember off the top of my head in my anger but I took the time to look it up. I knew I needed what the Spirit gives. Power, love, and self-control. Oooo that burned.

I’ve taken the verse out of its original context.  In 2 Timothy, Paul is telling Timothy not to give in to all the opposition people are giving him. “Lean in to the gifts you’ve been given, Timothy. God does not give you a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.” (my paraphrase)

God has given me the spiritual gift of teaching.  There’s something about the way I learn things that helps me to be able to teach them to others and pass on the messages I’m learning.  Unfortunately, sometimes I use my gift to mask my need for control. I’m just trying to teach my kids manners…NOW.

I needed to hear that verse again. I try to control everything else around me and God needed to remind me the only thing the Spirit wants me to control is myself.  Why did I sacrifice a pleasant (albeit messy) dinner for control? Dinner around a table is the best time to connect with my family. It’s not worth it to stand my ground and lose the relationships.  Next time will be different.

God, give me SELF-control when I want to control others.  May LOVE be the evidence of your spirit in me in all circumstances.