Discipline is creating space and then guarding that space.
This whole thing started more than a year ago, though it took me months to find my footing. I knew I wanted to practice discipline in 2017, but I thought it meant a lot of counting all the things I would accomplish and tracking my progress. A preacher happened to give a well-timed message in which he said that discipline is creating space in which God can work in your life. That changed the course of my year. And my perspective.
When I stopped looking at discipline as a matter of will and started seeing it as actively enlarging a space, life got…well, it got difficult for a while. I hated it. The whole first quarter of 2017, I resisted everything. I saw my theme as a sort of curse I’d called down on my own head. Had inviting myself to create space actually made my world bigger?
It had sounded so grand; reality was less appealing. If you’ve read this blog this year, you know the story: moved across the country, hurricane, moved back, depression and anxiety and general me-ness. First quarter resistance (plus depression resurgence). Second quarter tolerance. Third quarter acceptance. In the fourth quarter, I finally found myself embracing the space.
Whether you practice a discipline that is spiritual, mental, or physical, whether social, political, or personal, whether vocational or avocational – know that you are both creating space and guarding the space until it becomes usable.
You can dream of the space to work or to live or to be, but first you need the space. Discipline ensures you create the space. When the work begins, you may not be prepared to inhabit the space, and the space may not be prepared for you. I believe in a God I worship and serve; a God who is not arbitrary and who works with my life when I allow. I don’t know what you believe in – God, the universe, human effort. We may disagree. No matter how we believe or how disparately, the equation is the same: discipline = space for work to happen.
Guard the space until you can fill it, until you can live through it and truly make it your habitation. Treat it as the sometimes-frustrating, sometimes-exhilarating, always-in-progress sanctuary that it is. That it can be. While the work happens, look for other spaces to open.
May your new year be filled to overflowing with the very things you need – first to survive, then to thrive!