But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and …

If you’re like me, you are inspired by the of the Fruit of the Spirit because they float on the tongue and leave a sweet fragrance.  Who does not want to be more loving, more joyful, more kind, and more faithful?

However, the Galatians passage ends with what feels like a gut punch, with the words self-control.  What? My first reaction is to think there must be a mistake – those words do not belong in a passage so full of beauty and aspiration. But there it is, three syllables staring me down and daring me to respond.

The thing is, none of the Fruit of the Spirit that precede self-control can exist without it. They cannot exist without a healthy unbroken ‘wall’ of self-control that guards your heart and also prevents opinions of others, and challenging circumstances to break you down and steal your joy.

You can only control that which you are aware of. That which you are not aware of controls you.

Here are four some simple steps that can out the ‘self’ back in self-control and create opportunities to establish strong, appropriate boundaries around your heart.

  • Become aware of your triggers and be vulnerable with a trusted friend or friends. Don’t be afraid to process your challenging moments and ask for feedback.  Transformation happens in community.
  • Set a strategy in place.Develop small disciplines, and commitments, like memorizing scripture, that will keep you focused on the woman you believe God has created you to become.
  • Set your sights on who you are becoming. Set a short term goal of 3 or 6 months and write a letter to your future self, describing the woman you see who is slaying her dragons and standing more times in victory than in defeat.
  • Recognize it is only the Holy Spirit who can help you control self. He is your best ally and is invested in your journey because He is there for you to finish strong.

Commit to the process of controlling self and just watch the girl you were meant to become unfold. You will see the other fruits of the spirit show up to bear witness to your transformation!

Cathie Ostapchuk is the Co-founder of the Gather Women Movement. She is also a Leadership Development Trainer, Consultant & Coach. www.cathieostapchuk.com