Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Deadlines, Discipline, Discipleship

I've got a deadline this week, so naturally today when I found myself with a stretch of time while both (!) of my little ones napped, I painted my toenails. And now I'm blogging. It's a knitting deadline, which is almost worse. Writing deadlines can be powered through, but knitting? For as quickly as I knit, there is a limit to stitches-per-minute and I can't simply conjure a sweater out of thin air. Still, there it sits, waiting for me. And I'm doing everything I can think of to refrain from picking it up.

Deadlines do that to me. Maybe it's naive of me, but I don't think I'm really a procrastinator. At least, not intentionally. I'm not putting it off because I'm sure I'll have time to get to it later. I'm more paralyzed by a deadline to the point where I simply cannot bring myself to do the one thing I really need to do. Just thinking about THE THING leads to thoughts of the deadline and wondering if there will be enough time and I can feel the anxiety in me rising. So I paint my nails. And procrastinate by writing a blog about how I'm not a procrastinator. Sigh.

I've been thinking lately about what it means to live life on call. I read this interesting piece a few months back and it really resonated with me. Because what is parenthood if not life "on call"? At any given moment, any given thing could happen. Perhaps that is why I prefer to be a more flexible, fly by the seat of my pants kind of mom. Because when your whole life looks that way, it's easier to adapt to the call, whenever it comes, whatever it is. The danger of such a lifestyle is that it can be a disguise for a lack of discipline. With any strength there is a related weakness. With my great proficiency for adaptability comes a general lack of ability to adhere to any sort of schedule or program for very long. It's something I've been working on and is proving to be more of a mental and spiritual practice than I had previously supposed.

I started exercising regularly a few weeks after Magnolia was born and what began slow and gentle and small has become a daily practice of mine. A non negotiable, like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. Thinking about discipline in this way makes me realize that adaptability doesn't have to flee in the face of schedule. It just works within known boundaries and parameters. Some days the stars align and the kids are compliant and I get a really great, long, sweaty work out in. Other days it is clear that, at best, I'll get in a few push ups while I'm making dinner and stretch while playing with the baby on the floor. The important part is I stick with my goals of intentional movement every day. In the early days, the most difficult part for me was accepting interruption. I didn't want to be interrupted when I was all sweaty, or get sidetracked by kids who needed me and not know when I'd get a shower. 9 months in and I don't even think about it. It has become a part of my daily life.

At the start of Lent, I took a look at my life to consider what other areas I could baby step in this way with. One was taking facebook off my phone - necessary self discipline. Another was starting every day by starting the laundry, something that is so necessary for our home to run smoothly. I've fallen off the wagon with each but I've also climbed back on to try it again. I'm finding the discipline begets discipline, and getting strong in one area can help you begin from a place of strength with others. Neither may seem like a particularly pious spiritual practice, but that's only if you look at it from the outside. From the inside, discipline requires discipleship. I used to think that my wildly undisciplined life was more open to God's leading then a super planned regimented existence, but perhaps that was a narrow, lazy view. Perhaps there is a place that both discipline and openness meet, that spot where you are open to being on call, yes, but also intentional in the meantime. I'm looking for it.

God directing my steps does not absolve me from any responsibility for how I spend my time. It simply means I need to proceed with an attitude of humility, ready for His plans to trump mine, every time. My fear of diving into something because it might not end up the way I had envisioned prevents me from the awe inspiring wonder at watching God take my plans and meld them with His for His glory and my ultimate good.

Anyway, just something I'm wrestling with, learning and bending my brain around today.

So. About that deadline...

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