Come and Get It

A friend once shared with me how a family tragedy taught her about spiritual roots. She talked about how deep personal darkness left her without energy for pursuing God – all she could do was try to survive, and in the midst of all the heartache, He was there. Because she had done the work before the hard times hit, she found that her roots went down deep, and kept her steady even when all she had energy for was hanging on to Jesus, one day at a time.

I’ve often thought about that since – I love the idea of finding enough grace and strength to survive because we put in the work and grew the roots deep ahead of time.


Having a baby is no tragedy, but these last two years have been spent in survival mode. During the months I struggled with postpartum anxiety, I saw a counselor who told me, “Give it until your baby is two – you’ll feel normal again. Life will become manageable, but give yourself time.”

She was right – Everett turned two this fall, and while life is still full and crazy, things seem to have fallen into place, and we have come out of survival mode. God started stirring me up and making me long for more growth.

During the last two years, I found little snippets of time throughout the day to read my Bible or a few pages of a good book. There were short times of prayer, and lots of hanging on to Jesus, but this fall, it was as though God was saying, “It’s time for the next phase.”

I was having a great conversation with two of my dearest friends one evening, listening to them share about all the things God was teaching them. It was so inspiring to hear all the ways in which He was revealing Himself to them, through His word, and prayer, and great books or podcasts, and I loved hearing all they had to say. But part of me was also getting hungry, and I found myself wanting more of what they had.

I asked God, “Why aren’t you moving in my life that way? I want you to be teaching me and speaking to me like that. Why am I not experiencing more of you?”

Right in that moment, He said to me, “Come and get it.” Immediately, it hit me – it was time for me to get out of survival mode. It was time to get to work. Everything my friends were experiencing was available to me – I just needed to do something about it.

My first excuse was classic, though – “I don’t have time for more!” I thought I was already giving all I could. But as I thought about it, I realized there were little steps I could take – set the alarm 15 minutes earlier, use a Bible reading app instead of Pinterest, get intentional about jotting down the things God was saying to me, even if it was just in Evernote on my phone, here and there throughout the day.


Bit by bit, I started carving out the time. The more I did it, the more I wanted it. It felt good.

But I’ve still been a bit disappointed – I wanted to see more results. I’ve been hoping those times of connecting with Jesus would result in a greater ability to be patient. To be a kinder, gentler mom. To show more love to my family. To have greater self-control with my tongue.

I felt these were reasonable expectations – I wanted to see the fruit of the Spirit. It made sense that spending more time with the Spirit would lead to more fruit of the Spirit. Where was my fruit?! I wanted to see more apples on my tree!

Fruit of the Spirit

I shared this frustration last week with those same friends. As one of them prayed for me, she said something about the work that is unseen, and suddenly, I saw a picture of tree roots. It was as though God said to me, “The fruit is coming, but right now, we’re working on the roots.”

It was exactly what I was needing to keep going. I keep tiptoeing down the dark hall to our living room each morning, carefully avoiding the places where the floor squeaks so Everett won’t wake up. I keep putting in that time with Jesus because there is no way I can do this all on my own – two-year-old molars and homeschooling and potty training and explosive emotions and bills to pay and food to make and laundry to fold and all the rest are teaching me that I need to press in closer to Jesus.

Graham Cooke says, “Our circumstances are sent to us to improve the quality of our relationship with God.” I think about that a lot, because weathering a 30 minute tantrum over a pair of pants looks different to me when I see it as an opportunity to improve my connection to Jesus. I love my kids, I love my life, but there are parts of it that are just really hard. Can I remember to take all those hard parts, and depend on God to save us all? To redeem and restore, and bring peace and calm to our frazzled selves?

I need deep roots. I need the fruit, too, but I can understand how the roots come first, so I keep putting in the time. I used to think my failures as a mom meant I needed to try harder. Now, I’m seeing how I just need more time with Jesus. I’m trusting Him to change me. His job is to bring about growth, fruit, and change. My job is to come and get it. It turns out, it’s always going to be found sitting at His feet.

I’ve Been Trying to Squeeze Out Some Fruit of the Spirit on My Own

Like any good parent, I think I have the sweetest, most amazing children in the world, but somehow, we still occasionally have days around here when paradise feels like it must be in some other home. (I know, with this much sweetness, how could we NOT always have the happiest home EVER?!)

Kaylia and Everett

But Monday was a day like that. Oh, my goodness, I was tired. I really think my patience gets refilled during the sleep that happens after 6 am. I’ve been missing that chunk, recently.

So we plowed through homeschooling, Everett decided that naps were a waste of his time, my head was aching, and by the time Ben got home, the introvert in me wanted COMPLETE SILENCE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

On days like that, I want to be so much better. I want to try harder, and love harder, and just be more awesome, but for the last few weeks, I’ve had these verses hanging around in my head:

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

It doesn’t matter how much I try, it’s just not happening that way – I only bear fruit when I remain in Jesus.

Years ago, I heard a message about the Fruit of the Spirit that still comes to mind all the time. The pastor explained how the Fruit of the Spirit is just that: fruit. It’s the product of the Holy Spirit growing and thriving inside of us. We don’t start with the fruit, or focus on the fruit – it’s what we enjoy when we’ve gone through the hard work of growing.

It would be silly to get frustrated because there are no apples to eat in our backyard, when we haven’t even planted any apple trees yet.

In the same way, I need to focus on the planting, instead of the produce. I can’t be frustrated with myself over a lack of fruit – I need to get busy planting.


But I want apples! Right now!!! And when I want those awesome Fruits of the Spirit, and get impatient with myself for not being more self-controlled, or kind, or whatever, my natural reaction is to try harder, to muster up all the self-discipline I may have inside of myself, and squeeze out some fruit with sheer force.

That’s not really how it’s supposed to work, though. That self-discipline leads to…nothing.

So I’m trying to change the way I think. When I notice a lack in patience or whatever else, I’m trying to take it as a sign that there’s actually a lack of a connection with the Holy Spirit. I don’t need to try harder – I need to ask for more help. I need to get alone to pray. (Quick, 30 second cries to Jesus for help while I’m in the bathroom have seemed helpful!) I need to memorize Scripture.

And I need to stop beating myself up. That’s a big one. I can be so hard on myself, but really, I need to stop stressing about the apples, and focus on what really matters.

In the end, I just want to be consumed with the Spirit, abiding and remaining in Him until I become a healthy, growing, flourishing branch.