What I Learned About Discipline in 2012

Last year my one word to focus on for 2012 was “discipline.” I wrote about this alot on the blog. Its interesting now to look back and remember the things that I learned about discipline and how my attitude and perspective toward discipline has changed. So now, after twelve months of focus, here are the things I learned about discipline:

I am the most disciplined when I am in relationship with God. When I incorporate time to pray and meditate on scripture into my daily routine, I find that the other areas of my life fall into a natural rhythm of discipline, among other desirable qualities such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness,  gentleness, goodness and love. In my personal experience, I am stronger as a person and embody these characteristics, when I include prayer and Bible reading in my daily routine.

Discipline has many applications. When I started my focus on discipline, my motivation was to lose weight. Before 2012, I rarely thought of discipline as anything other than diet and exercise. I have since learned that discipline exists in every area of life. I realized that there are some areas where I am quite disciplined and other areas where discipline doesn’t come easy. I see my need for discipline in everything from meal planning and staying on top of household chores, to speaking my husband’s love language and showing him the respect that, as a man, his heart craves (despite how I may or may not be “feeling” at the time). Discipline to let my yes be yes and my no be no. Discipline to not over commit in attempt to boost my ego “to be needed” or “feel important” while at the same time discipline to choose to engage in something uncomfortable or that I would simply rather not do because its the RIGHT THING to do. I could go on, but the point is that, through focusing on discipline, my eyes were opened to discipline’s many manifestations.

Discipline = Delayed Gratification. When I discipline myself, when I resist something I want, when I hold my tongue, when I serve someone else when I am exhausted, when I force myself to do something difficult or that makes me feel uncomfortable I RARELY regret it and almost always receive some kind of reward or personal gratification as a result. There is fruit to be had and enjoyed in a life of discipline, I just have to be willing to wait for the reward and trust that my hard work is not in vain. I must be willing to do the work and wait on the desired outcome. This is the hardest, yet, most beautiful aspect of discipline to me; as we do what we know is best and wait, we demonstrate our belief, faith and hope in something bigger than ourselves to step in on our behalf. For me, that faith and hope is in God and the promises in the Bible. And I have personally experienced the fruit — the delayed gratification — of obeying God and waiting on Him to act on my behalf. I pray that I will make a practice of this more in the new year.

Discipline will never come easy to me. We all have things that come easy to us and things that we have to work hard to achieve. I have grown to accept that cultivating discipline will be a life-long effort on my part and will not be achieved apart from hard work and ongoing willingness to change. I used to resent discipline. I used to believe that disciplined people were all work and no play (read: no fun). Now I know that discipline is a beautiful gift that some folks are hardwired to be good at in their lives. I am hardwired to be good at other things in my life, but that doesn’t mean I can dismiss discipline and avoid discipline. It just means I am going to have to work harder to achieve it.

Thanks to those of you who have followed along with me as I’ve focused on discipline. I have really appreciated the comments, exhortation and affirmation I have received from many of you along the way. I am quite grateful for this blog as a way to communicate and for those of you who interact with me on the various topics. I have not totally decided on my focus for 2013 but I am narrowing it down and will post about the new word for the year in the very near future.

Happy New Year!

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