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