Christ calls me to smother discipline across the canvas of my entire life. Yet why do I reservedly dabble with it here and there, a la carte? In the years prior to my reversion, I was always disciplined with physical exercise, and yet when it came to other matters like food, alcohol, and lust, I seemed to toss discipline out as unnecessary. Even worse, in the few places where I did practice discipline, it was primarily for superficial reasons, like wanting to look physically fit.
Sure, exercise, is healthy and fine, but I prioritized it over spiritual discipline. When I lost sight of that, it was like running on a spiritual treadmill. I was doing a whole lot of huffing and puffing, but not actually going anywhere. Saint Paul reminds us what’s more important.
Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.—1 Timothy 4:7-8 (RSVCE)
I’ve now found bodily training to be of value insofar as it gives my soul a healthy home and a vehicle to carry out my mission to share the good news.
Discipline is Tough
Discipline may invite feelings like discouragement and doubt, but if seen from the perspective that it can chisel us into a better version of ourselves, it’s really a gift. It spars with our weaknesses, after all. But Christianity is a life of the cross. It’s not meant to be easy.
Our sins can weigh us down with discouragement. Saint Ignatius of Loyola tells us that discouragement is never from God because it clouds faith and hope. God’s love does not deal in punishment as human vengeance does. God’s love disciplines us in order to free and purify us—sometimes a painful process—so that we may not die but live in Christ.—Magnificat: October 5, 2018
This video by The Skit Guys on being chiseled into a better version of ourselves is great: