disciplineI have always hated the word discipline.  “Discipline” brings to mind punishment or correction for disobedience…which makes me think of people telling me what to do and getting in trouble.  I am not a fan of being told what to do.

With that said, it is with some trepidation that I share with you that discipline and I have decided to be friends.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you that I had joined a 40 day bible study and health challenge called Read, Pray, Move.  Several of my girlfriends and I have been taking this journey together, which has made it ever so much more fun.  Today is Day 16 of that journey and I feel good about how it is going so far.

I posted the photo above when I first told you about this challenge.  What I have found interesting in this process is the degree to which this statement has begun to resonate with me on a number of levels.  As I have made choices about what I am eating and how I am ordering my days, I have often considered those 2 options:

“What do I want now?”  Chocolate, potato chips, a hunk of bread, TV watching, Facebook binging, skipping the grocery store and getting fast food, the easier and more comfortable way…

BUT…

“What do I want MORE?”  a deeper sense of God’s presence and direction, healthy body and mind, work that is meaningful, a sense of purpose and accomplishment at the end of the day, an organized and uncluttered house, connection with loved ones, to make a difference and be a blessing…

I am not saying that eating kale is bringing me closer to God and making me a better human being.  In fact, I think kale is fairly disgusting unless buried in something with at least 12 other ingredients.  But I do believe that the discipline (there is that word) of structuring my days around certain healthy guidelines and activities has turned out to be about more than just giving up junk food.  Learning to say no to myself when I am tempted to grab a handful of chips or a piece of candy is training me to say no to myself when I want to procrastinate by frittering away 2 hours on Facebook or watching reruns of West Wing instead of doing something that might be more difficult.  Saying no, reaching out, taking a risk, trying something new is harder, but better.  Better is braver.  Braver is what I want MORE.

Does that mean I haven’t been on Facebook, watched a rerun of West Wing or eaten a piece of candy in 2 weeks?  Do I think that those things are intrinsically bad?  The answer to both of those questions is decidedly no.

I like this definition of discipline: “training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.” In my desire to seize the opportunities found in this season of my life, and my belief that God can be part of that unfolding, I have set out to find a framework for my new normal.  In the past two weeks, with the help of this 40 day challenge and my traveling companions, I have been better about structuring my days and my habits by focusing on what I want more and putting THOSE things first.   As they say in the 12 step program and in scripture, First Things First or Seek Ye First.  Daily, hourly, moment by moment prayers of “help” and “thank you” are an essential part of the process for me.

Getting things done, not procrastinating as often, nurturing new connections, spending time in prayer, investing time in shopping for and preparing healthier food, exercising regularly are all disciplines or practices that make me feel good about myself and the choices I am making.  Choosing these better things is a way to be kind to myself.  When I am kinder to me, I like me better and I am liable to be kinder to me again tomorrow. As I tell my girls all the time, kindness is my favorite.  And progress, not perfection is the goal.

On top of all that, I have lost 5 pounds and my favorite jeans don’t hurt my feelings anymore!  Yahoo!