Originally published on April 8, 2013

My friend Heather wrote recently in her blog about the discipline of self-denial.  And I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.  Some view me as a very disciplined person, and I am - about some things.  But I never understood how I can be so diligent in some areas of my life and so off the rails with others.  I am extremely discplined about exercise.  I enjoy the sense of accomplishment and how strong I feel after a good sweat session - so I rarely miss the opportunity.  I am like clock-work with bible study.  I love reading God's Word and what others have to say about it.  If I miss my time with Him, I truly MISS it.  I am faithful to prepare - and often overprepare for my classes.  I hate the feeling of not being ready.  So I tackle any kind of homework this way.  It is almost impossible for me to procrastinate.  
But before I start feeling too good about myself, I have to take a look at the areas I struggle to control.  Food.  I feel like I am in a constant battle between wanting to be healthy and lean and wanting to eat whatever I want.  I have trouble staying on a consistently healthy eating plan.  This is a little hard for me to admit in a public forum because I work in the fitness industry.  The other major area I lack discipline?  Shopping.  Spending money.  I don't like to spend a lot of money, but I love to bargain shop and could nickel and dime our finances to death without some reins.  I have struggled for years to distinguish why I lack discipline in these areas and not in others.  But my friend helped me see the answer clearly.  Self-denial.  Let me explain.  It costs me nothing to be disciplined about exercise and bible study.  I enjoy them.  I thrive on them.  But I take comfort in food and shopping.  To curb my impulses here means to deny myself pleasure.  But I think I have to take it one step further.  I think I have to delve into entitlement mentality.  Because Shelby's illness is difficult, I think I deserve extra comfort.  Extra stuff.  And I deserve to have it with no negative consequences.  There.  I said it.  It's greedy and selfish and ungrateful.  But it's the ugly truth.  If food comforts me, I should be able to eat what I want, when I want.  If finding a great deal on a new shirt takes my mind off of my troubles, what is the harm?  I mean, my life is hard.  Boo hoo for me.  So for a couple of years now, I have been trying to maintain my current level of fitness by still eating whatever I want, but trying to eat smaller portions.  How has that been working out for me?  Let's just say that I'm not posting a picture.  The truth is, I am getting older and have realized that I am going to have to sacrifice some of my favorite foods in order to achieve a greater goal.  And that means denying myself some comfort.  And just because I can afford a new designer purse, doesn't mean I need to buy one.  I truly believe God has blessed me to be a blessing to others and He has greater things in store for our finances than just more stuff.  
The discipline of self-denial.  It's a concept I am going to have to sit with, pray about, mull over.  I'm sure there are even more areas of my life where I need to apply this principle.  What about you?
"Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge."  Proverbs 23:12