God has taught me so much lately. Sometimes it seems like almost TOO much to handle. My prayer is that I will never get in the way of what God wants to do in me.
I wonder now how I made it through high school & college without feeling as overwhelmed as I do now by what God wants me to look like, compared to what I do look like. He wants to do all these things in me, He wants me to look like Jesus, but I am so far from it! Every day I am reminded of how far I am from the standard He desires for me (to be holy as He is holy, righteous, blameless, pure...). But my heart wants it! So I battle every day, the part of me that wants to be holy against the part of me that is SO not. (Romans 7 comes to mind...)
God taught me recently two things regarding this. First of all, I cannot make myself righteous. I can try as hard as I can to obey all the rules, to do everything right, & can even try to keep my thoughts pleasing to God, but I will fail. Because I am human. But, instead of beating myself up over it like I am inclined to do, God wants me to repent, & get back up & keep going! I treat my holiness like a personal victory I am attempting, instead of letting God change me - that's the job of the Holy Spirit, I can't do it on my own!
Someone recently put it like this - when a parent is watching their child learn how to walk, they clap & encourage, & when their child falls down, they don't scold them for failing, they pick them up & hug them & tell them to try again. Of course! When we are covered by the blood of Jesus, we are made righteous THROUGH Him (not through our own efforts), & when our hearts desire to follow God & obey Him, God does not scold us when we fall - He is our loving Father!
Second, I have learned that in this Spirit vs. flesh (which seems to most often include my moods, reactions, inclinations, etc.) battle, I make the choice in every moment to follow either what I "humanly" want to do, or what God wants me to do. I think before recently, I just lived my life, & whatever popped out (either fruits of the Spirit or evidence of the flesh) was what it was. As if I couldn't help it! But I have to make a choice, & the product of that choice will either be the fruit of the Spirit, or not. It sounds so simple. It's so not, apparently! It's hard not to let my actions reflect my mood, or to keep that mean thought from running rampant in my mind. But if I STOP - & check the condition of my heart, my mind - then turn it back to Jesus - my actions will "pop out" as fruit of the Spirit.
Of course these things have proven to be harder lived out than learned. But I'm thankful that even though I seem to mess up over & over again - I wouldn't give myself a second chance! But God does. His mercy is great!