“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23
If you are anywhere near my age, perhaps you remember your mom or grandma wearing a hat to church. (I’ve lived in California so long, I really don’t know if this is still widely practiced elsewhere!) The hats were small and simple for the older women, and sometimes had a very short front veil that went to just below the eyes. Younger women sometimes wore bigger hats with brims and perhaps a flower or two. I have a couple of pictures of my own childhood in which I was wearing a small, white hat, no doubt securely bobby-pinned onto my fine hair, probably for Easter services.
Most of us no longer wear Sunday hats to church (with a few lovely, notable exceptions at our church), nor do we wear our finest clothes to celebrate the day. But every day we wear “hats” in a different sense—hats that give us an identity just as any hat worn on top of one’s head.
At a recent family event I began to think of all the “hats” I was wearing that identify the person I am. These are public hats—hats to wear in full view of others. First of all, I identify as a daughter, a princess, of the King. He is with me wherever I go, and He is the One I primarily represent. My husband was at this family gathering, so I identified as his wife. One of my adult children was present, so I identified as a mother, and as his wife’s mother-in-law. A grandchild was present, so I also wore a grandma hat, and there were also some friends attending.
Princess. Wife. Mother. Mother-in-law. Grandma. Friends. Six hats balanced on my head at one time.
We do this without thinking, of course. We have no trouble switching those hats as needed in action or conversation. We do not confuse the hats; we do not speak to our adult child in the tone or voice we would use with the grandchild. We do not confuse a conversation we should be having with our husband with one we might have with our friend. (Well, at least I hope we all know and practice the difference!)
For all the hats we wear, one principle guides our conversation and behavior—exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. Every day of our lives we should be growing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This fruit really is the public hat we wear. This is what identifies us, no matter who we are relating to. This is what people see. This is our adornment.
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
“Father, mature the fruit of love in our lives. Amen.”