Grouchiness and the Work of the Spirit

I’m beginning to understand that everything that is lacking in me is tied to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what I mean. I’m currently on vacation with my family. We’re at a beach and literally all we do everyday is hang out together, go to the beach, eat food, go to the beach again, eat more food and have a little fun. It’s the lowest stress vacation you could ever imagine even with two kids 5 and under. That being said we came back to the beach house after our morning beach trip (yes, it is as wonderful as it sounds) and I was a grouchy jerk.

Why was I so grouchy? Oh, I had a list. My 3 year old is afraid of the water and she’s afraid of the sand which means she cries a lot at the beach — and today she’d cried a lot when we weren’t at the beach. My 5 year old is very zealous and very independent so she asks lots of questions about activities she wishes we could do and if we can’t do it then she asks if she can do it alone — which of course she can not do — which of course upsets her. Along with this our 3 year old and 5 year old are 3 and 5 years old so they behave shockingly enough like a 3 and 5 year old.

This is why I was grouchy — which is to say I had no reason at all to be grouchy.

After the kids laid down for a nap I sent Meri back to the beach for some afternoon sunning and reading and I began to think — “what’s my problem? Why am I such a grouch? Why am I so easily thrown off by all of these things that are no big deal at all?” I realized it’s all tied to the work of the Holy Spirit. See, today I’m lacking love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are all the fruit of the Spirit. I can manufacture some of these things on my own but when push comes to shove they don’t naturally occur in my life at all. If I wanted to respond in a more Godly, loving manner what I needed was more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life.

So, why is this lacking in my life? Well, to be honest it’s because I am on vacation (that’s why it’s lacking this week — we can talk about other weeks at other times!) and for some reason when I’m on vacation I take a vacation from connecting with God in my normal rhythm. I generally spend time with God through scripture and prayer journaling in the mornings when my schedule is regular — but when my schedule changes this time often gets shelved until the schedule is back to normal. What I find in my life is that Jesus wasn’t messing around when he said that apart from Him we can do nothing — because when I’m disconnected from Him I dry up quickly. It’s not just with my kids — it’s with everyone. I can become very selfish in my interactions with my wife, I can want things to go my way and only my way, I may eat too much or watch too much tv. I can say I’m lacking discipline — and I am — but it’s really an issue of self-control — which is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

I wish this was just an issue with my vacation time but the reality is as I reflect it’s the answer to everything that’s lacking in my life. When I am harsh, when I am easily angered, when I am unkind, when I don’t keep my word, when I am worried or anxious, when I am unhappy, when I lack discipline — the answer is almost always that I am trying to do life on my own and trying to produce fruit disconnected from Jesus.

This afternoon I had to humble myself and confess that apart from Jesus I can do nothing. I need Him, oh I need Him — every hour I need Him. I took about 30 minutes and read through Ephesians and prayed. When my kids get up I’m going to have to apologize and I’ll probably need to tell them that at the core of my grouchiness is the fact that I haven’t been connecting well with Jesus this week — but I’m sorry and I’m going to spend more time with Jesus the rest of our vacation so that we can all have more fun spending time together on the rest of our trip.

I am grateful that what is lacking in my life is tied to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life because it means I have some hope. I don’t have to become the grouchy old guy who is unhappy when he doesn’t get his way. I don’t have to be unkind or bitter, I don’t have to be undisciplined or joyless — no matter what circumstances I’m in — in fact the opposite will be true for me at any age and in any situation if and when I connect with my Savior and surrender my heart to Him on a daily basis.

Originally published at on August 7, 2014.