But the fruit of the Spirit is... patience, kindness, goodness - Galatians 5:22
Unconditional positive regard. It's the foundation of my work as a psychologist. No matter who presents in my room, no matter what they are coming to me seeking help for, I make sure to communicate acceptance and support to my client. And in doing so, I am able to help them change and heal.
Unfortunately, like everything in life, this can sometimes be a challenge. Some of my clients present with attitudes and beliefs that I personally disagree with. Or having taken actions that I would not, personally, support. And yet, as a psychologist it is not my place to judge or condemn them. Rather, my role is to stand beside them as they explore their innermost self.
Fortunately for my clients, I have an amazing God who has given me some tools that can help me treat people with acceptance and support. The three fruit of the spirit that we are exploring today are regularly drawn upon to help me with clients.
Patience is defined as "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious" while kindness is "the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate". Goodness is "the quality of being morally good or virtuous". Each of these are a way of acting or behaving towards others to help them feel loved and accepted.
And yet, they can be difficult to maintain in times of struggle. It is very easy to become impatient, or unkind when frustrated or delayed. It is very easy - and tempting - to be wicked, to take short cuts, be rude or cheat when the opportunity arrives. Think about it, how many times have you gotten frustrated when you are driving to an appointment and get stuck behind a slow driver. In that moment - are you demonstrating patience, kindness and goodness? Or are you muttering under your breath (unkindness), honking the horn (impatience) and tailgating them (wickedness)?
But in the end, it doesn't help. You are still stuck behind that driver running late to your appointment. However, instead of being relaxed and calm, you are now agitated, frustrated and jumpy - which means you are more likely to cause an accident. Or, in the case of the therapy room, more likely to communicate this to the client, causing them to feel distressed or ashamed.
So, what do I do instead? Instead I focus on something positive about the person in the room (even it is something small such as they have nice shoes). I remind myself that they are a human being who God loves and that no matter what, they deserve to be accepted. I embrace patience and the idea of being there beside them and communicate my respect for them as a person with kindness and goodness. It's hard work, but the effect on my clients is amazing.
So this week, why don't you practice some unconditional positive regard by the help of the Holy Spirit? How? Ask Him, who is with you, to help you - by giving you opportunity to practice these fruits this week, and the power from Him to walk them out. And in doing so, increase your ability to be patient, kind and good.
Written by Ashleigh Crosilla