I'm sitting here having major writing block. I know there are many things I could write about for a faith post, but my brain doesn't seem to be able to think of something at the moment. Sometimes the writing process just happens, like water running downhill. There is hardly any effort involved and obstacles are easily gone around or just flowed over. Other times, writing feels like walking up a steep staircase that goes on forever, after having run a marathon. Words don't always come, which is very frustrating for the one who desires to make writing their profession.
Fiction comes much more easily to me. Give me a word, an idea or a picture and I can usually throw myself into the middle of a scenario complete with characters, dialogue and action. The biggest problem between me and getting something published is a lack of discipline. As bad as I feel that I want it and as much as I know God gave me an ability to create and imagine interesting stories, I struggle with actually having the self-control to sit down and complete things.
I have this issue in other areas of life. Eating, exercise, keeping a clean house, spending time in prayer and in God's word have all seen the ramifications of my wishy washy self-discipline. I will often begin a course of action, at least in my head saying,
"This time I am going to finish that story and submit it."
"Today, I'm going to eat better."
"Monday, I'll start my diet and exercise regimen."
"After I get through this week at work, I'll start doing my Bible reading again."
I have a feeling, many of you can relate to this ongoing dialogue in your head. Maybe you even say these things out loud to a person you've asked to be your accountability partner. Perhaps that person does a good job texting you, calling and making sure you are sticking to your plan...at least for a while, until their own lives fall into disarray and they, like you, jump the track. So how do we get off this hamster wheel of on again, off again self-control or self-discipline?
1. Perhaps the first thing we need to do is admit we have a problem.
"Hi! My name is Amy and I am lazy, tired and addicted to chocolate and binge watching shows on Netflix."
It would seem that most counselors agree that until we can admit we have a problem we can’t expect change to happen.
2. The second thing that might be important is to want change.
I do not believe this comes easily. Many of us are paralyzed by the prospect of change. We can say we want it, but do we really? Change is hard and there are not very many of us who like things that are hard. Let me just take my soft blanket and pillow and go hide in a warm, comfortable hole somewhere and I’ll be good.
I really believe we have to ask God for the desire to change. Only He can give that to us. Left up to my own devices, I will repeatedly return to my bad habits, or in many cases my sins.
3. Thirdly, we need to recognize temptation.
Here is a piece from a devotion by Oswald Chambers:
Temptation is part of life. What I find myself doing is looking at certain things as temptations and others as just normal desires. What I need to do is start recognizing the temptations for what they are. Look at this scenario:
I love pizza.
We have pizza for dinner.
I’m on my third piece and thinking about the fourth.
It’s just a piece of pizza, right? No worries.
Is it really just a matter of I should be able to eat whatever I want and how much I want or has it become a matter of gluttony? Once I have identified the temptation, in this case the temptation to be gluttonous, I have a better chance of turning away from that particular temptation. It might be hard at first, but the journey begins with that first step.
4. No matter how many times I fall off the wagon, I need to keep trying.
It is very easy to give up. Even if it is only for a weekend, but a weekend turns into a week, turns into a month and so on. The whole idea behind self-control or self-discipline, is that we have to make a choice and we have to care. If we give up caring about trying to do better, be better, live better, we will end up on a one way street towards difficulty. That difficulty may manifest itself in poor health and weight gain, or in never writing that book that God really wanted you to write.