The discipline of discipline


Yesterday’s post about just sitting down to write in order to allow my self to start writing caused me to think deeper about the whole issue of discipline…how we make ourselves do the things we need to do.

“Discipline” is not a fun word for us in our current cultural context. It denotes a surrender of freedom that we’re not really comfortable with. It’s usually something we expect out of other people but want to reserve the right to deny in ourselves.

For me there’s always been something about the dead of winter that creates a vacuum of discipline. Maybe it’s symptomatic of cabin fever, which pop psychology is now calling “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” There is something about being cooped up inside and the short, gray days that can lead to a sort of apathy about everything in general. Certainly, most of us are generally happier and more energetic when the sun is bright and the days are long. Personally, I prefer to be outdoors more than indoors. I prefer feeling warm over feeling cold. It’s easy to see why bears just shut it all down and hibernate.

But of course we open the door for all sorts of damage when we let our self-disicpline slip–both physically and spiritually. That extra slice of pizza that seems like no big deal soon manifests itself alongside the walk I didn’t take or the workout I didn’t do…not just on the scales, but within my psyche. That time I spent watching Sports Center instead of  preparing for my Bible study or keeping up with the reading assignment for the class I’m taking works on me in much the same way. Self-discipline can quickly get tied up with our sense of self-worth. It can be a rapid spiral downward into lethargy and self-pity.

One of the reasons I’m trying to resolve to resurrect this blog is part of a bigger effort to not let my discipline slide during this particular season. To not allow the winter in the world around me to create a winter in my spirit.

The cool thing about discipline is that it demonstrates for us the freedom that can come with surrender. I FEEL better when I’m taking care of business, so to speak. In fact, the rewards are so positive that it’s hard to imagine why I can so often allow things to slip so easily.

Maybe that’s why Jesus calls us to surrender our trust in ourselves to trust in him. So we can experience that freedom. That sense of worth that transcends the crappiness of our circumstances. Even on a frigid January day, the appearance of the sun in a cloudless sky changes our mood. It’s a promise of something better…not just for the coming of spring, but in the middle of winter.

Discipline is what gets us to spring & summer. So let’s dust off those treadmills, sharpen our pencils, turn the lights on bright and keep moving!

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One thought on “The discipline of discipline

  1. Well said brother! I have come to see that the key to getting myself to do or not do (whichever is appropriate) is the very surrender you reference at the end. Instead of trying so hard these days (an often failing), I find myself trusting in God to work through me (and I’m much more successful). We need to stop being the captain on the ship of life. We aren’t exactly passengers either, so I guess that makes us one of the crew, motivated by and carrying out the directives of the Captain in whom we trust.

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