Filling in the Blanks

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

The original Greek word for gentleness in Galatians 5 means, humility. One thing is for sure, the good Lord is always providing opportunities to develop a more humble spirit within me. I’ve learned that if I don’t willingly submit myself to areas where He is emphasizing humility, it will not go well for me. He’ll bring situations and people into my life to nudge me toward His will for my inner self. He will allow those situations to get louder and, dare I say, more painful until I pay attention.

Have you been there? If anyone told you that sanctification is a painless process, they were lying to you!  

Of course, one way to limit the pain of pruning and weeding is to surrender at the first nudge. I wish I could tell you I’m an immediate responder, but that’s not true. As I get older, I’m more responsive, but there is still much room for improvement.

God is not looking for perfection but offers us the blessing of being perfected as we journey through life with Him. Over the past many months, He has again been planting seeds of humility in me.

This time, He is dealing with my propensity to make wrong assumptions when I have limited information. It’s called, Filling in the Blanks.

Our brain tries to make sense of uncertain situations by creating a narrative. But the truth is, many times the narrative is false and we believe it as truth. Filling in the blanks is deadly to relationships and steals our peace.

God designed our brains to fill in missing details on the fly. The ability to do this is extremely helpful in dangerous or unpredictable situations, but like so many things, there is a downside too. The enemy loves to distort what is good.

Think back on the last misunderstanding you experienced with someone. Chances are one or maybe even both of you had been filling in the blanks. You might say, “I’ve got her number”, but in fact, you don’t.

This is where it becomes distorted. Our brains are busy filling in information extrapolated from expectations. Often, those expectations stem from past negative experiences and disappointments.

The narrative we end up creating is filtered through our past hurts, and then we have a problem – we are so sure we’re right.

Making up missing information usually comes with a strong sense of certainty, and when we act on it, we can get ourselves and our relationships into trouble. But the good news is, God will help us – He always leads us to the truth.

Once we decide to resist the urge to make assumptions, we will start noticing when we do it. God will give us the awareness to live in the uncomfortableness of not having all the info we feel we need – and awareness precedes change, every single time.

This is the seed of gentleness {humility} He planted in me over a long and quiet season. I’m painfully aware of when my brain wants to go there, but He promises to renew and transform my mind! I am being perfected each time I remind myself to be gentle, patient, and humble when I have a limited view.

I’m growing. Imperfect progress, but progress just the same.

So what does this look like in the day-to-day? It looks like wisdom, grace, humility, and maturity. It looks like every single Fruit of the Spirit, working together to have God-honoring and God-glorifying relationships. Anything otherwise distorts His plan for friendships, marriage, teams, ministry, work relationships, and families.

And how does this sound in the day-to-day? It sounds like “Help me understand”. I believe these are the three most underused words when relationships become bumpy. When a friend comes to me with those gentle words, a zone of safety is established and a potential relationship-breaking misunderstanding is cleared up and put to rest.

Author Hollie Gerth recently wrote a post on the same topic and I like what she adds to “Help me understand…”

She adds, “What else?”

So kind – so grace-filled.

One last thing… we teach others how we expect to be treated. When we sincerely go to them with those three words and follow up with “what else?”, we show them how valuable they are to us. In most cases, they will respond in kind, if we set the tone.

Sweet friends, I’m simply sharing what God has been teaching me along the way. I hope you find it helpful and hopeful!

Sometimes, I need to be re-taught something I already knew, but now in a much deeper way. God is so faithful. He wants us to live lives that glorify Him – and so much of it hinges on how we treat each other under confusing or hurtful circumstances – especially within the Body of Christ.

So grateful to be on the journey together!

Book Laura

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