Word of the Year: Self-Discipline

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I was digging through a pile of Blu-Ray discs yesterday asking my sister if she knew where my yoga DVD went. She smirked, “Is that your New Year's resolution?”

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The short answer is no. She got to hear me launch into a big diatribe about how resolutions don't work for me. The word itself is just too inflexible.

res·o·lu·tion: noun a firm decision to do or not to do something

Life has taught me that I can't be particularly firm about what I will or won't do in the short-term. If you draw an arbitrary line in the sand, this world will find a way to squash you up against it. This world will bend you over in time, one way or another.

So I leave flexibility. I leave room to bend, so the world can't break me.

Hence the need for yoga DVDs.

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That being said, I set measurable goals and live by general five-year and ten-year plans. I absolutely do require structure on a year-to-year basis. The way I achieve that, personally, is with my annual Bible verse and word of the year. I select a scripture to model my life after, and I choose a single word from that scripture to help guide me when I'm feeling lost. It's been wildly successful in resetting our family's pace whenever we've stumbled. Even as a child, I memorized brief verses along the way and I clung to them.

I can remember learning some of my earliest prayers and verses from sitting in on my parents' NA and AA meetings at just four years old.

In this very tangible way I owe everything in my life to God.

Here are the guiding scriptures I've recorded on the blog in years past:

We've infused our family with joy and grace. We've focused our path responsibly to provide for our children and ourselves. We've embraced each day anew, and we've learned to be discerning.

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In the midst of all that, though, it has not been easy. There have been quite a few battles that Nate and I have fought internally and out in the world. The common thread in many of our struggles has been a certain fearfulness. We've found that past experiences have often led us to act out of a place of inadequacy and scarcity.

Not anymore. This is the year in which we erase doubts and embrace the characteristics that God wants in their place.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

This is the year of self-discipline. This is the year in which we will learn to control our thoughts and ensure that our actions are guided by nothing but goodness. We will embrace the power we have without fear, and we will act out of love. For each other, for our kids, for our community.

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I'm realizing now that this talk of “self-discipline” sounds a little contrary to what I said earlier about letting life bend you. I think what I've learned from the difficulties we've encountered is that it takes true self-discipline to embrace life fearlessly and accept both the bad and the good with grace and love.

Self-discipline is strength, but it's also restraint. It's peace in the face of the storm.

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Self-discipline is faith in our own capabilities, and at the same time it is knowing when to release the death-grip of control that's nothing more than fear taking a stronghold in our minds.

Self-discipline is probably the best way we can illustrate God's nature to our children and to others in our lives. Self-discipline is the path to ridding our lives of fear, and letting power and love take its place.

What's your word of the year?


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