I chose discipline as my word for the year. I chose this because I have seen in myself quite a lack – in all areas of life. In the past year or so, I haven’t exercised hardly at all. I don’t eat well (see last week’s post), and I have not been as dedicated or regular in my pursuit of Christ recently as I wish I had been. Because I felt sick for so much of 2018, I really want to make some different choices this year.
What I am learning is that it really comes down to caring for myself. I am allowed (and even responsible) to take care of me. My body has put up with my poor eating and exercise habits long enough, and she needs and deserves better.
So I have been thinking about this word discipline, how really it is in no way an attractive or sexy word to choose for my year. It is so much more fun to choose a word like “adventure” or “hope” or something like that (no judgment if you chose one of those words. You get me.). But I find myself more and more attracted to normal and less and less interested in extravagance or extraordinary when it comes to most things in life.
Social media world makes us think our lives have to be this over the top, ultra-significant, world-rocking thing. That makes me feel…tired. Normal feels beautiful and lovely and – enough, I guess. Which is a great feeling. Social media gives us some beautiful things but often makes us feel as though we should always be doing more-more-more. What if I chose to do — enough — so that I can feel like I am enough? What if I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to this invisible standard of extraordinary? What if every new year I didn’t have to set up a new vision board and dream up one billion requirements for self-improvement?
So discipline sounds nice. Finding rhythm and routine that sustains sounds delightful. I’d like to spend my year building a life that impacts the ones in proximity without feeling like I always need to be growing and improving and doing more.
Discipline feels like a necessary practice in order to do anything else well. Without discipline we are loose cannons, unpredictable, fickle, and dangerous. I don’t want to be any of those things. I want to be healthy — physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. I want to be dependable and safe.
Discipline is hard, and dare I say, not super fun. I am channeling my emotional 2 year old self almost on the daily when I learn how many things do, in fact, have dairy in them. I just want garlic bread. Or Nutella. Or a chocolate chip cookie. Or chocolate of any kind. My sweet fiancé brought me flowers and oreos (#vegan) and it was the most romantic thing that could have happened to me this week.
What I have learned so far is that discipline is easy when the positive outcome is obvious. For example, when your stomach hurts and you feel like death, it is easy to avoid foods that feel like they might make you continue to feel that way. But when you feel great and normal, it feels so easy to give it all up for a couple Hershey kisses or a quesadilla. Discipline is choosing what is best even when it isn’t what you want. It is choosing need over desire. It is keeping the long game in mind rather than a quick fix or immediate gratification.
I don’t have a lot of ideas for what this will look like this year. I am not setting a long list of goals and expectations for myself. I am taking it one day at a time, making the hard but better choice for myself and the life I do, deep down, want to live. I am trusting that I will experience God’s presence in the discipline, in saying no to my human desires or tendencies. I am hopeful that I will experience health in a new way this year, viewing food as nourishment rather than a short-term solution to hunger or a lack of energy.
There is a lot to be said for setting goals and intentions for a new year. I do really love it. But I also worry that we set ourselves up to feel like failures for the majority of our lives, since by February we tend to let a lot of these hopes go. With this word, I want to still offer myself grace in the moments or on the days where I don’t practice discipline. The goal isn’t to have 365 days of disciplined living, but to grow in the practice of living in a disciplined way.
I’ll keep you posted on all the things, the disciplined and dairy-free living. What is your word for the year?