I’m a Nut Job

It all started while we were on vacation in the Florida Keys a few months back. The house we stayed at had a multitude of coconut trees. Resting in my pool chair, it seemed as if the coconuts were taunting me saying “you can’t climb up this tree and pick me.”

Well I climbed the tree and got the coconuts, much to the astonishment of my husband and children. Now I needed a reason for my obsession with coconut picking so I didn’t seem like a nut job (no pun intended). Thus I got the idea of the Coconut – Fruits of the Spirit – Family – Project. It would be a fun learning and bonding project for me and the kids this summer.

School starts in a week and there lay those darn coconuts in the box harassing me yet again “You are never going to get this done before school starts.” So finally today I pulled the girls outside in the grueling summer heat to paint the coconuts. I asked the girls to sing me the song so I could remember what all the fruits are. I should be ashamed that I don’t have them memorized. So begrudgingly they started …

I got the love, joy, peace, patience way down in my soul, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentle, self-control …

Kennedy (10) started her painting with JOY. I tried not to be bitter, since I wanted to do joy. I had already planned out the cute little music notes to put on it. I instead started with PATIENCE, thinking I could probably use a heavy dose to get through this project.

Presley (7) decided she didn’t want to do our project and that she would paint an apple on one for her new teacher instead. I was kind of relieved because, I knew hers would be less than perfect, not that I am aiming for perfection or anything, that would make me less than KIND, which is also a quality we will be painting on the stinking coconuts.

JOY was fair, I had Kennedy make just a couple of changes, but it wasn’t terrible. Next Kennedy chose LOVE. I really wanted to do LOVE, so I might have been a little less than GENTLE with her when I made her start over because I didn’t like the finished product.

Kennedy wasn’t FAITHFUL to the project and she left. Presley was already long gone by this point. There I was sitting in the floor of the garage, painting coconuts by myself. What a nut job!

The whole point of this was to spend time with my children, having fun and talking about the virtues God gives us through His Spirit and wants us to display to the world. But instead I made it about the idol of perfection. I could have been teaching my girls principles that really matter; instead I was focused on the cuteness of the project.

Are you like me and constantly battling this tug of war with what really matters? Putting focus on things that will eventually rot and be destroyed? Placing so much importance on the cuteness of coconuts is like chasing the wind … completely and utterly useless and exhausting.

These coconuts will now be a great reminder to me that fruitful virtues are what I should be striving to achieve. As the coconuts fade and rot, which they inevitably will, I will be reminded of the treasures that will never be destroyed.

Written by Karen Culbertson

Wife, mom and licensed mental health counselor.

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