Self-discipline does not come naturally. We are born with the desire to do whatever feels the best, and it's difficult to overcome. However, once it is mastered, it makes a huge difference in every area of life.
Self-discipline defined: the act of denying yourself; controlling your impulses.
Ah-ha! No wonder it's so hard. When is the last time you heard a commerical on TV telling you to DENY yourself? It's a dual struggle...against our flesh AND the culture we live in. The only way for me to gain control of my impulses, as the definition implies, is to pray continuously. Here are some of the areas that I struggle with:
- Sleep. I wrote about this yesterday...so no need to go into detail. I have a hard time denying myself of more internet time and my bedtime gets pushed later and later and later. Consequently, I am too tired to get up at 5:30 a.m...which is when I desire to meet with the Lord.
- Exercise. I used to work out daily at 5:30 a.m. 6 days a week. But that was back in year 2000 BB (before Bella). I have the desire now...but no discipline. For the time being I get my "workout" by chasing Bella, lifting her on my legs, climbing the stairs, etc. But it's not enough to maintain a healthy heart. Maybe I will add that to my things to do when I get up at 5:30 a.m. :)
- Money. I have battled money issues throughout my adult life. It started in college...they told me I could have a free t-shirt if I signed up for their credit card. Sweeeeet! Next thing I know, I have $5,000 on that card and it's only the end of my freshman year. Luckily, I snapped out of that, paid it off, and met Matt. We still had to learn a lot of money lessons the hard way when we were newlyweds, but it's under control now. Especially with the Compact in full swing. We have no consumer debt and we only pay with cash, using an envelope budgeting system. However, even though we are following a budget, the struggle is with the DESIRE to buy things...not actually buying them. Wanting more, when I have more than enough. Even while on the Compact, I have choices to make regarding what we do spend. For example, I went grocery shopping today and I could have easily spent $100 if I would have allowed myself to buy everything I "wanted"... bread (instead of making my own), a sandwich for lunch (instead of going home to eat), apples (they are so expensive right now!), crackers for Bella (instead of making our own)...the list could go on and on. Instead, I stuck to my list and got an amazing amount of food for only $55.00. It was exhilierating to deny myself in this case, because it resulted in saved money.
- Food. I have always had a fast metabolism...and didn't really have to watch what I ate. Now that I'm getting OLD...I need to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth. I have a horrible sweet tooth, and if I let myself start down a sugar path...it's hard to come back. With that being said, I have incredible self-discipline when I want to...especially in the area of food. Eating only raw foods for an entire month? No problem. No meat for 2 years? No problem. It's all the other little battles. Having another peanut butter cup doesn't really seem like a spiritual battle...but it's the attitude of that heart that matters. If I can practice self-discipline in the little matters...it will be easier during the bigger trials.
- Maintaining my home. When I discipline myself to clean the apt. throughout the day and put everything away after each use, I am a MUCH happier person. Disciplining myself to create a "place for everything" blesses my family. If I decide that I don't "want" to do the laundry for 2 weeks...there are big problems. Isn't it amazing how God can teach us lessons even through the mundane?
- My mouth. After high school and college, gossiping became a thing of the past for me. However, I still have to be very careful about my use of sarcasm...and my tone of voice in everyday conversation. It is especially important as a Godly wife to never speak badly about my husband to others. Every word out of my mouth is counted in heaven...I long to please Him with every breath. So challenging...
Basically it comes down to denying myself now for a greater reward/benefit in the future. Getting up early might not feel great now, but the long-term spiritual benefits are plenty. Deciding to exercise and eat healthy even when I don't feel like it will bring health to me through the years of my life. Not buying everything I desire will allow us to save for more important things in the future. Having a discplined mouth brings honor in the present and no regrets in the future.
"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor 6:12
I want only to be "mastered" by the Lord...who knows my struggles and my heart. He knows how to best teach me in this area. He displayed the ultimate self-discipline as He willingly went to the cross to die for our sins. My prayer is that I will die to myself daily...for I am not my own.