I urge you to pour yourselves out for each other in generous acts of love, bearing with each other through humility, gentleness, and patience, ready to maintain peace so you can live together in the Spirit of Christ. (Adapted from Ephesians 4:2)
At a recent mindfulness yoga retreat, we were all encouraged to hold peace and purpose as we connected our faith in mind, body and soul. The yoga master, Ginny suggested we set an intention to bring awareness to a virtue we want to focus on for the time of mindful breath and movement. I chose “humility” since I have been meditating on Ephesian 4:2, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” During the hour-long movements, there came a point of tiredness in which I was unable physically to balance. I looked up in desperation and said to Ginny, “I cannot do this.” In a gentle, unhurried direction she said, “You can lean on the wall for help.” I confess there were tears of brokenness in experiencing the humility of the Spirit, the awareness that there are times I “cannot” and I must admit that and seek help from others.
These simple verses exhort and encourage us to live out the life of a Christ follower in practical yet profound ways. They include a power-packed, shortened version of the fruit of the Spirit: Humility, Gentleness, Patience, and Bearing with Love…all with eager expectation for healthy, peaceful relationships.
Healthy and peaceful relationships! I want them, I pray for them, I agonize over the unhealthy ones. In practicing spiritual formation, I have found that imagination and visualization help me “see” and “feel” the concepts I think about. Recently my husband had an MRI and wanted me in the room since he has claustrophobia. Without any metal, including my phone, I sat looking at the back of his head sticking out of the tube. When they said, “It will be twenty minutes,” I immediately thought of the practice of centering prayer which is twenty minutes. So I thought it would be great to pray for him for twenty minutes of stillness without words. I received an image of being “over” him in prayer and “under” him, holding him up to God, and supporting him in the pain he was experiencing.
BEARING WITH: 1. To be patient with. 2. To move while holding up and supporting, to hold above.
So how do we “bear with” someone through humility, gentleness, and patience? Before I go any further, it is well known that I often ask my friends to pray for me to be a patient person and especially wife. I fail daily at patience and who would say they are humble without failing at that too? “Bearing with” according to one definition is “to move while holding up and supporting, to hold above.” Or simply “to be patient with.” A book I highly recommend, “The Love Dare,” says, “When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation.” “Do you find that anger (impatience) is your emotional default when you are treated unfairly?” By the way, bearing with is not the same thing as “putting up with,” think about it.
Bearing with others or holding someone up, requires humility, which means responding favorably without self-centered argument, and gentleness, which avoids emotional extremes, and patience, which takes a moment to lovingly respond not react. “Patience (and all the fruit of the Spirit) makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying. Patience stands in the doorway where anger (and all the other negative emotions) is clawing to burst in.” (The Love Dare) The practice of these gifts of the Spirit will bring about expressions of love and peace.
REFLECT. How can you be more present to the Spirit or mindful of the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with, or love in your current relationships or life experiences? What would the opposites of these qualities be as you take a realistic (and humble) look at your interactions and reactions? Is there someone you need to bear with, to hold above, to pray over?
PRACTICE. Love Dares: For these dares, choose one each day to practice the virtues. You can write your own to be intentional in your practice. 1) Patience–Resolve to demonstrate patience and say nothing negative for a whole day. If the temptation arises, choose to say nothing. 2) Kindness–Do at least one unexpected gesture of kindness. 3) Love: Think through a greeting you can use with enthusiasm to reflect your love for someone. 4) Humility–Give in to an argument, allowing the other’s preference first. 5) Love–Neglect an activity you normally do so you can spend quality time with someone. 6) Gentleness–Show respect in a discussion by avoiding extremes. 7) Bearing With–Stop to see someone you would normally overlook and listen to them. 8) Humility–Remove anything that is hindering a relationship to flourish.