Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why I Am Disciplined and a Christian

It is tough to be disciplined.  Not in the, “I just got grounded because I stayed out past curfew” kind of way but a, “I was going to play with my friends but realized I needed to do my homework first” kind of way.  It is tough to be motivated, to remind yourself every day to do the things that need to be done.  At least, it is difficult for me.

For instance, yesterday I actually disciplined myself to write some more of the story I’ve been working on.  Yes, the number on the right side of this blog is still correct, I’ve been stuck in this spot for a little bit.  Regardless, I sit down and begin to type and I realize that I have absolutely no motivation to write.  I love to write, but I have to have some sort of “feeling” that I don’t really know how to explain to be present if I am going to write something worth reading (fictionally at least).  So, I didn’t push through that battle and instead stopped all together.  I think now, if I had only kept writing anyway, I would have ended up with some pretty awesome elements in the story.

I guess that’s where motivation is commandeered by discipline.  At the point of most resistance, discipline is the foundation that pushes you through.  Motivation will only carry you so far before it proves to be too weak a force.

I have found this to be especially true in the areas of exercise and writing for me, and I think just writing these past few paragraphs has kicked in the motivation to keep at it, and has brought about a new perspective on that area of life.  I digress.

The tricky thing about discipline, and any change that people want to make really, is that it has to happen inwardly before it can happen outwardly.  That is, all changes that are permanent in a person’s life that pertain to the person (habits, personality, beliefs, etc.) start inward and work their way out. 

Example: Two men are trying to quit smoking, one is doing it because he can see the pain it puts his family through every time he lights up another cigarette; the other is doing it because it would be interesting to see what life would be like without the craving.  One man is motivated by a deep need and want, and the other is motivated by curiosity.  In the end, who do you think would be more likely to succeed in their endeavor?  I would wager that the man who did it for his family succeeds and does so willingly, while the man who does it out of curiosity would ultimately give up thinking that knowing an answer isn’t worth all the pain involved.

Now, I cannot say if this is true or not as I have not been in that position.  However, I have seen time and time again, as I am sure you, my readers, have as well, that people who have this deep internal need/want to do or change something are the ones who are successful.  When we internalize these needs and wants they become a part of who we are.  Things that are innate within ourselves will naturally reveal itself in our actions; not that we do it perfectly every time, but there is a consistency involved.  So, to bring this back to my example of writing and exercise earlier.  I exercise and write not because I want to (although I find that oftentimes I do) but because it is who I am.  I am an active and healthy individual who is also an aspiring author. 

It is just who I am.

I am also a Christian.

You see, I have been so inundated by the Christian sub-culture; it is hard to say that I could be anything else.  Except for one thing, there are countless stories of people who have grown up in the church like I have and have left, for various reasons, never to return.  I too have the same capacity, so why do I stay?

Why do I go to church every Sunday?  Listen to “worship music” from time to time? Pray?

I will tell you: it is because it is who I am, and I am in love.  I was not born a Christian; in fact, I spent the first ten years of my time in the Christian culture unwillingly.  I just wanted to do my own thing.  Although, as a ten year old what do you really want?  But, someone captured my heart while I was there, and I have been unable to leave ever since.  I speak, of course, of Jesus.  He is reason I am who I am.  You see, as strange as it may sound, this “invisible deity” has changed my life for the better.  When I was younger I suffered from so many anger problems, even to the point of getting violent and blacking out once.  However, through my relationship with Jesus I no longer suffer from these anger issues, or at least, not nearly as much.  This was not a change I made on my own, and it was not one I even initiated within myself, but just a change that came as a consequence of my regular commune with him.

I guess the important point here is that I am not making changes in my person simply because Christians have this list of rules they need to follow, but rather I make the changes because I am in love with a being that I believe to be the Creator God.  In fact, to think of the moral standard like some list of rules is to misunderstand it.  The standard is no different than obeying the laws placed down by any government; after all, what are our laws if not a moral standard placed on ourselves?  As far as I can tell, the biggest difference comes in this: the Christians’ moral standard comes from something bigger than themselves, while the government’s moral standard comes from within.    

Earlier, I said that changes are made from within, this I still hold true, but the catalyst to this inward change, as a Christian, comes from a force outside of myself, and yet, simultaneously within as well.  This force is both God and my love for him.  Just as I do certain things for my wife because I love her, I also do things for others and for God because I love him.  It is my love for him that leads me to follow the standard, to do everything I can to show love to those around me, and to apologize for those who have not acted as they should under the banner of Christianity.  Seriously, I am sorry that some people treat you like garbage.  If it is any consolation they treat their fellow Christians like dirt too.

It is not who we are meant to be.  It certainly is not who I am.  Who I am is appalled by that, and I believe God is too. 

Grace and Peace

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