To Be More Disciplined…

I’ve chatted with several people about their New Years Resolutions, and the one thing that keeps coming it up is “I need to be more disciplined.“  Discipline is fantastic, but I find people, myself included, to try to be disciplined, fail miserably at it, then give up on it all together.

I was thinking the other morning, that instead of thinking about be generally disciplined, that working on specific disciplines would be a lot easier to handle, and giving yourself a lot of grace when you aren‘t.  For example, needing to keep a work area clean.  Instead of trying epically to do it all at once, taking a bit, by bit area to keep organized, and practicing that area.  Once you got one area down, go to the next one.

I can see that mindset being valuable in other areas of your life, such as finances.  Getting into the habit of writing down your expenses will make it easier to keep a budget and being disciplined about your money.  Or finding a Bible devotional tool so that you can keep track of your progress, and have the ability to do your devotions anywhere.  I downloaded a Bible app onto my smart phone, that way I can do my devotions on the bus in the morning, and it keeps track of what day I’m on in my reading so I can catch up.

I used to get so mad and frustrated at myself when I’ve failed at a particular discipline, that I had to retrain my thinking and response to myself.  I’ll stop and tell myself: “What’s the point of being angry with myself, it won’t do any good.”  Then I’ll think about what I need to do to make a better choice/decision for the next time.  It can be slow going, but I do see progress, and the discipline sticks better.

Becoming disciplined is a long road, but fortunately it’s not the end all of everything.  It’s only part of the process as we grow, and learning to have grace with ourselves when we do fail, helps us to have grace with others and understand the grace that God shows us.

Turning 30

In less than a week I turn 30, and have been doing a lot of thinking about what I have done with my life and where I am going.  There are a lot of things that I thought would happen before I turned 30.  Things like getting married, starting a family, being in a career that uses my college degree, and maybe owning a home.  In physical and societal terms such as those, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that much.  But there are things that I have accomplished, such as moving away from the state I grew up in, learning to take care of myself and make decisions on my own.  Having my own convictions and values, and really learning who I am and what makes me tick.

On many occasions, I would plan out certain things in my life, and God would laugh and then promptly change them.  Looking back, I see how God changed things that were for the better.  Not getting into medical school, living in Wyoming longer so I could learn to grow deeper in relationships.  Moving me out to Seattle and getting plugged into a church and community group that has been incredibly supportive.

I’ve learned a lot being single and having the time to develop deep relationships.  Some days have been rough, with pain, confusion, and sadness.  Even with having a strong desire to be married, I know that I need to be healthier with myself and those around me.  Balancing and understanding my needs, yet not being so inwardly focused and having the ability to pour out the love and grace of God on those around me.

Then there are the innumerable mistakes I have made, trying to figure life out.  Poor relationship choices, not listening to God, not heeding the advice of wise friends and family.  Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, even though some days I feel like I’ve failed miserably.  I ran across this quote the other day from one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, and it reminded me how my mistakes can be used to minister to other people:

“In God’s hands, your mistakes aren’t open cuts, they are healed scars that tell stories of hope other people need to hear.”

I’m still trying to figure out where I am going, but I know that God will be with me every step of the way.  I’m excited to move forward, but scared shitless of not knowing what will happen next.  Praying for grace and guidance as I proceed with this crazy adventure called life.