I write, speak, invest, network, and question to stimulate fruitful conversation. Let's talk about human flourishing! It begins with freedom. Holy leisure is the key to human being, freedom and generativity. Please join me in the adventure of realizing Christ!
SAW 21: Delight vs Discipline
1. What are some ways you practice self-discipline? Is practice gradually “making perfect”?
Daily waking, making the bed, not eating everything I want, work days for blogging and other projects, trying to do T-Tapp exercises for 60 days in a row, daily Lumosity workout (brain games), Lent practices, daily morning prayer, sticking with budget, setting boundaries on alcohol. These disciplines come with more ease now than ever, so I suppose the practice is ‘making perfect’.
2. What would be lost if you tossed your personal disciplines to the wind and just did whatever felt delightful? What would be gained?
If I tossed these, my work would suffer and my ideas would not be realized. Mine aren’t rigid disciplines that need to be relaxed, but just enough structure to support what does delight me, which is to realize those ideas. Tossing them would throw various aspects of my life into more tension. I’ve been there, done that, and prefer a degree of order/discipline that is still life-flexible. What is gained when something impedes my discipline, plans, or practices is that I learn to let go and trust God to stop, or to prosper my plans at His pleasure. Subordinating my will to His keeps everything in good perspective.
3. What are the organizing structures of your life (for example, schedules, files, Google Calendar, workplace hours and rules, school hours and rules, church requirements, organization systems and procedures, habits, physical order of environment)? Who designed these? How are they evaluated for effectiveness? How do they free or constrain you?
The Church year is an organizing structure that orients me to sacred time, and keeps the temporal life and progress in perspective. My calendar, my filing system, my approach to work (routines, systems, schedules, etc…) and my physical ‘life-space’ are all ‘organizing structures’ I’ve tweaked and developed over the years to fit various seasons of my life. I evaluate my own structures periodically and adjust them as needed. They constrain me in ways that help me focus and be more effective at keeping many plates spinning at once. They free me to be creative, to be hospitable, to invest in relationships, and to be responsive to others.
4. Give examples of disciplines that have led to freedom or delight or have become pleasant in themselves. Were they very hard, or unpleasant, or costly to develop?
I’ve become more delighted with writing as I’ve become more disciplined at it. When young, I wrote for my own reflection, for fun, pretty randomly. Introducing discipline to the equation was very hard. It seemed to threaten the ‘creative impulse’ – to squelch the bubbly vibe. As a more fully-integrated and mature person, I can see how much freedom the self-discipline has added. To be able to write ‘on command,’ or ‘as needed’ is huge.
5. Which of your self-disciplines began as an external demand, law, or constraint? Which ones have you imposed upon yourself?
Being able to wake in the middle of the night and stay calm – even to return to sleep, or pray a while – this did not come naturally! Years of waking to care for children in the night bore this fruit. Much of the rest of my self-discipline was self-imposed, such as taking the time to respond in some way to my reading, instead of merely inhaling books one after another.
6. What is your interior response to discipline? Does it make a difference whether it is an external or internal imposition? What “helps the medicine go down” more easily?
I must admit that I still feel a bit of resistance when the discipline at hand conflicts with something I’d rather do. I have to talk myself through it, reminding myself that a) I wanted to submit to this discipline, and that b) I want the end result it helps accomplish, and c) I am free to choose it or drop it. This last bit took such a long time to learn! I would try to beat myself into submission, but that often resulted in my self being more rebellious! I have to be free in order to choose rightly, and to practice that, I sometimes choose the lesser good (not something immoral, but something that is not The Discipline, or the best thing) to prove to myself I really can choose. The freer I’ve become, the more able to choose what is actually in consonance with my highest desires. Yay!
7. If you were completely free to choose, what disciplines or organization structures or constraints would you eliminate?
If I could drop any constraint, it would be the need to manage other people and to co-ordinate the family logistics. I feel I’m often ‘herding chickens’! I actually do freely choose this, but more as a duty than as something I enjoy. It would also be nice to have housekeeping taken care of for me by someone else, but I’m sure cleaning my own toilet is building my character!
8. If you were completely free to choose, what abilities, delights, freedoms would you pursue?
I would like to have more time to pursue language studies and piano, but these are just lower in priority right now. I feel free to choose, but constrained by the limits of time available. I’d love to have a healed knee, and greater physical freedom. I’d like to grow more free to do bold, crazy, over-the-top things – less inhibited, more fun.
9. How can desire lead you toward your true self, your highest destiny, God, truth? How can desire mislead you? How can you judge whether to follow your own desires?
My desires are a part of what leads me forward in God’s path. Or, you could say that He uses the natural – the desires – to accomplish the supernatural – His purposes and plans for me. I can definitely be mis-led, but that’s how I discover where my desires do not conform to His will for me. I’m led astray like a baby who wanders off, or falls, and not like a rebel doomed to hell for her mistakes. I think we have to take the risk of making bad choices in order to learn to make better ones. Of course I don’t mean sinful, or immoral choices, which should be off limits because we are obedient to truth. But to follow wherever God wants our own desires and gifts to lead us means taking some initiative, and some risk.
10. In what ways do you wield yourself so as to get/do what you want? In what ways do you yield yourself so as to accomplish what God wants?
I wield myself: rising, planning ,writing, studying, conversing, investing time, moving here and there, shopping, singing, cleaning, spending money and time and effort, praying.
I yield myself to God: Sabbath practices, Divine Office, letting go in peaceful sleep, offering pain and desire to Him as prayer, accepting impedence (almost always!) with patience and grace, entrusting my burdens and plans to His care.
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