On Discipline and Better Things

On Discipline and Better Things
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Back in May, I began a journey of discipline. It started out as a dietary change – I gave up sugar and most carbs for the entire month, with a few cheats here and there. It was hard. I failed often, and my cravings got the better of me. Since I wasn’t wholeheartedly committed, since I wasn’t disciplined, I fell off the plan for June, July, and the early part of August.

When August came around, I committed to discipline again. I’d recently been prescribed medicine for my frequent migraines, and I didn’t like how it made my body feel. I began my journey of discipline again, except this time I plunged in. I gave up sugar. I restricted my carb intake to 20g net carbs or less a day. And, I began running.

That was 5 weeks ago. I have only cheated once – a few bites of wedding cake last week. I’m amazed at how good I feel. My body doesn’t ache. I have had zero migraines in 5 weeks. My energy is consistently high. I’ve gone from living sedentary to running 4+ miles multiple times a week. And, I’ve lost just under 20 pounds. It’s incredible.

This journey of discipline isn’t about weight loss, though that is nice. It’s about saying no to some things, and it’s about pursuing the better things. I was not unhealthy before – in fact I had a recent checkup with a doctor where I got a good report of healthy, if not a little overweight. But though I may have been healthy, I didn’t feel good. I had low energy most days. Getting out of bed was a struggle. My brain fog prevented me from focusing on tasks for too long. I wanted something better.

As I’ve gone through this transformation, I’ve given much thought to the idea of discipline and the pursuit of better things. It’s what the Christian life is about, really. We give up some things – they may be bad or good, depending on what it is – for the better things. By the transforming power of the gospel, we say no to sin and pursue holiness. We hold loosely to the temporal for the promise of the eternal. We give up the world to gain Jesus.

Paul says it this way,

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 

and

One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way…let us hold true to what we have attained.

Now, do I miss donuts? Sometimes. Yet, now that I’ve tasted the better things, I no longer have the appetite for the lesser things. The few bites of cake I had last week were a letdown, and a reminder that though they may be good, they do not satisfy. Just like the lesser things of this world. Money, sex, extravagance, pleasure, unholy relationships. They promise so much but deliver so little.

I’m reminded of C.S Lewis’ poignant thoughts on this subject:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis

What are the lesser things you’re holding tightly to? What are the better things you should be pressing into?

One thought on “On Discipline and Better Things

  1. This resonates with me so much right now. I’m currently doing this cognitive behavioral therapy weight loss plan through work (working for a University comes with so many free perks) and one of the big things I’ve taken away is that we are so mindless with what we use to occupy our time. Whether it’s food — like mindlessly cramming popcorn in your gob while you watch a movie — or just scrolling through your phone with no purpose, we do things for no reason all the time.

    Right now, I’m trying to be disciplined with my water intake (even though I would love to be chugging a third cup of coffee right now) and the food I eat. If I don’t want that particular food item, I don’t even touch it. It’s strange what a big difference discipline can make.

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