I used to always think of discipline as punishment or the consequences of poor choices. You know, that thing you do to your kids when they fail to put their laundry away after you’ve told them fifteen times. As I grow older, however, I am realizing that that is such a small facet of what discipline really is.
There are a few areas in my life that I feel are a daily practice of discipline. Teaching me, stretching me, making me more than I was the day before.
I almost don’t even have to say more about it, am I right?!
I have these grand ideas of eating healthy and exercising daily while my body morphs into supermodel qualities and I lightly glisten from my efforts. Reality hits me in the face when the sun peeks through my curtains at 6:15, waking me up and reminding me of my lofty goals. I roll out of bed and pull back the curtains, hoping with all that is in me that it is pouring down rain so that my excuse for not running is logistical in nature and not emotional. 9.5 times out of 10, it is sunny with no rain, so I grab my workout clothes, ruthlessly wake Cam to join in my torture, then get ready. I drink some water, eat a quick bite of something, grab my iPod that is loaded with fabulous music from every era, and walk into the stairwell, where I am hit in the face with breath-taking humidity, effectively moving me past the glistening stage of sweat into the full out, dripping down my back stage, down 4 flights, to the beautiful scenery in which I am lucky to live. Our complex has a circle road, lined with towering palm trees and tropical blooms, that is exactly 1.1km around. Perfect for measuring how far you hope to run. The goal: 6.6km. About 0.3km in, my body tells me it is no longer fun and that I should quit running. It takes so much discipline to press on. Over and over I ask myself, “Does anything hurt?” If my answer is no then I know my desire to quit is purely mental and I have no true reason to walk. This goes on over and over for 5 laps. I tell Cam, while gasping for life-giving breath, that I just don’t have another lap in me. It’s his turn for ruthlessness, so he tells me, at the finish line of our 6th lap (for those of you not familiar with km, that is a little more than 4 miles) to sprint. Give it all I have to the end of the building. I shoot daggers, lift my head, and sprint, knowing I can give 20 more seconds.
Discipline. We can do hard things without quitting if we set our hearts on the prize and cry out to Jesus with every single step. And if we do quit, we can start again tomorrow. Grace.
Quiet Time. It’s always been a practice of discipline. Always.
Why is this one so hard? I mean, I know why. The enemy is prowling and what an easy win for him! We are armed with this knowledge yet continue to allow the devil to take this time from us. I made a rule for myself that I cannot get on my computer until I have spent time reading the Word and talking to Father. I made the same rule for my girls. It has made it easier not to get sidetracked by the world, but then I have the battle that is in my mind. You know, when you start to pray and next thing you know you are daydreaming about the cake you want to bake later in the day. Or the cupcakes you ate the night before that were so good. Or when you are reading scripture and realize you have no idea what it is saying because your mind is elsewhere. It takes so much energy and effort to focus on the King and give Him what He is due, what He is worth. Discipline.
And I will be honest with you, the days that I leave my quiet time feeling renewed and refreshed and like I am leaving His very presence, those days are the hardest days. Those are the days that Satan pulls out all the stops and starts attacking. I can feel my mood shift and anger start to rise at the smallest things. He is no dummy. If I feel like that after a good devotion, then maybe I will just stop. He doesn’t seem to attack so hard on the days I fail to pray. However, there is joy in persevering and doing what is right, regardless of the results.
I can go on and on about the ways and areas in which He is teaching me to discipline myself (marriage, motherhood, ministry, to name a few), to push myself out of my comfort zones so that I can bring Him the most glory. I believe that life on this side of Glory is itself an area that requires an inordinate amount of discipline to live well as a Believer. Thankfully we are all in this together!