I recently listened to a podcast interview with the renowned author and speaker, Rachel Held Evans. Evans spoke about the Bible, the cultural and political climate in America today, and also, the complexity of love. On the latter, Evans mentioned how some relationships are easy; her infant son, for instance, that love pours naturally. But other relationships require effort; take practice. She talked about love as a discipline.
I’ll be the first to fess up that I bristle at the suggestion that discipline is “necessary” or “good.” As a creative type, I hate anything that sounds like someone telling me what to do. Meal planning? No way. Balanced diet? Yeah right. Expense tracking? Boooring! But guess what? The complete disregard for discipline eventually leads to tyranny. Without meal planning, “hangry” becomes a constant state of mind. Subsisting on a diet of fat, salt, caffeine and sugar (my personal favorite!) means preparing for fatigue; the total slumps. And resisting the art of budgeting might feel fun- the cheap thrill of frittering away dollars and cents, but the reality means no promise of a vacation or a calculated splurge; no room for an investment.
So guess what? Discipline, the thing I thought I hated, is something I’ve embraced in my adult life. Because disciplines, especially spiritual ones, sustain us. Just like the Rachel Held Evans idea about love taking practice – it’s true! And, mysterious as it is, so does a relationship with our Creator.
For me, I have taken to reading my One Year Bible in the mornings, followed by prayer journaling. I doodle large spirals, writing names of those for whom I pray around the spiral. Then, I write observations of my own developments or shortcomings inside the spiral.
I’m still me. Faulty, flawed, cranky, resistant to disciplines, sensitive as ever. But these practice – I sense that they are grounding me, teaching me, preparing me. For what? Sometimes I know, sometimes I don’t.
How about you? What disciplines do you love, loathe, or put into practice?