Lent 16-20: discipline win

Well, if you’re paying attention you noticed that I certainly have NOT been posting daily.  In fact, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out which day of Lent this is supposed to be.

There was a time when I would have called this (sort-of-jokingly and sort-of-not) a failure.

But those days are happily a thing of the past.

The goal of writing every day was two fold: (1) doing something me and Jesus both value – and doing it together.  (2) prioritizing something that is important to me (writing).  Prioritizing it today, instead of thinking that a magical time is around the corner when writing will just happen into my schedule.

And those are the values that my discipline serves.  Discipline works for me. It is not the end, it is a means to an end.  There’s no disappointment with this week because those goals have not been thwarted even if it hasn’t played out in writing every day.

Don’t get me wrong: discipline is only discipline if it kicks in when the the urgent things start to bump out the things you call important. Discipline is only discipline if it overrules your instant gratification and your laziness or your ‘screw it’ and your ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’

You can’t call it discipline if what you really mean is – I’ll prioritize that thing when I feel like it or when I have time. Discipline exists for the times when you don’t feel like it, or when you don’t have time.

But on the flip side – discipline is also only discipline if its reigns are firmly held by you.  If it works for you, to serve and facilitate the meeting of goals and values that YOU select. Otherwise it’s slavery.

Slavery plays out like this: we are disciplined so that we can like our bodies, not because we like our bodies. We are disciplined so that we can be respected, not because we believe we are respected.  We are disciplined so that we can fit others values, not because we have a strong sense of our own.

A disciplined life is a life that is lived in line with your deepest values identified in your most secure moments.  Discipline is creating guidelines in your sober right-mind truest self, that will help you live in line with what you actually want when your hungry/animalistic/insecure-self kicks in.

So, for all those who hit the 15 day slump in Lent and ‘messed up’ whatever that thing was – take heart.  Celebrate the 14 days of your life when you prioritized somethign you cared about.   That’s a huge (and praiseworthy) accomplishment.

It’s not all or nothing.  Discipline isn’t an instant fix, and it’s not a short term commitment.  It’s a way of life.  It’s a learning process – a constant choice to pursue the things that actually matter to you instead of responding to the things that call to you in the moment.

Let’s not throw in the towel because we didn’t do the thing we really wanted.  We start again today – walking in line with what we want.  Remembering that we are slaves neither to urges nor to discipline.  We’re free.

Questions for ya:

  • Do you tend toward neglecting discipline or being enslaved to it?  (Generally we pendulum swing from one to the other), which swing are you in now?
  • Make a list of your three things you truly/deeply value.  What are some ‘guidelines’ that might help you live in line with these values?

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