Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm continuing in my Lenten theme. As some of you know, I used to do a daily meditation blog in Lent and I guess I still feel a strong motivation in that direction.

Yesterday, the sermon I heard was based on the Ten Commandments. The Pastor talked about how it's too bad we've come to view discipline as a negative word, when in fact it is very positive. He talked about how parents of small children have to discipline them to protect them from exploring things that would hurt them, and indeed it is a LACK of discipline that is the unloving response.

As he went on about the positive nature of discipline in our lives, and how we tend to be much happier when there is discipline in our life than when there is not, I had one of those "aha" moments. I have always been a person who has to struggle with her weight -- it fluctuates as much as 15 pounds, and hardly ever stays where I want it for very long at a time. My moment of insight was that I should learn to pay better attention to what's happening with my weight not out of vanity or concern about my weight per se, but because my weight going up almost always signals an overall loss of discipline in my life.

When I am exercising properly and being mindful about what I eat (not dieting, just paying attention and self-monitoring) I am usually also praying on a regular basis, reaching out to other people, taking appropriate steps for my career -- in general, living a disciplined existence. But usually by the time I realize I have put on 10 or 15 pounds, I look around and realize that I have fallen into self-indulgence and inertia in other areas of my life, too. For example, though I didn't lose my job until the beginning of October, I realize now that I started putting on weight around July or August. Realistically, I think there were signs that things were going badly at that time, and since I didn't know how to fix them, I reacted in a general breakdown of good habits.

I hope I can hang onto this insight! I see it as beneficial in two ways. First, it is another great motivator to not allow myself to wander off the straight and narrow of exercise and eating right. Second, I really believe that if I pay attention, this will be an early warning signal that allows me to turn the tide before things really go wrong.

It is an interesting Lent for me. I have been continuing to read the books about prayer that I mentioned, and I feel like they are helping me focus my efforts. I am not increasing my prayer time as much as I'd like, but I have definitely increased it some, and increased the quality. I think I have a greater awareness of the need for prayer and the little opportunities that present themselves every day.

On the other hand, I am constantly running, helping my mother and sister while keeping my family running. And the lack of a job remains a spiritual struggle as well as an economic one. God is generously providing for us and I have no reason to fear that we will really suffer for months yet, if ever. And I believe that when the time is right, God will lead me to the right opportunity. I know that I just need to stay open to the possibilities and eventually, the right thing will fall in place. But I have moments -- OK, sometimes days -- where it is very difficult to keep that faith. I fall into fret and worry and what-if and why-didn't-I and all the rest of those boogeymen of the mind.

Tonight I travel to Zanesville to stay at least two nights, as my mom has her second cataract surgery tomorrow, with a follow-up visit to the surgeon Wednesday morning. And by now, my sister's neurologist should have the results of Friday's MRI, so I hope we can get an appointment scheduled to follow up on that. So I don't know how many days it will be before I can post again. I just ask that if you read this, please send out a little prayer for my mom and sis and for my safe travels.


Shannon said...

Sorry I'm reading this just now. My prayers are with you and your family.

About diet; I recently read The Omnivore's Dilemma, and one of the assertions the author makes is that as Americans we have no cuisine, as in no rules or discipline with regard to eating, the way they have in virtually all other cultures. The French, for example, never dine alone, enjoy one glass of wine, maybe two but never more, eat with the seasons, and seldom snack. My French friend Nathalie once scolded me because we went to a noon brunch on a Sunday, so we couldn't have a cocktail. We were still eating at one, and I was like, hey let's ask for the wine list and she looked at me like I was from the moon...why would you drink after the meal is over? She was very stern and very serious and we had no drink, even though I suggested having a "digestif" it was no good to her. The moment had passed.

With regard to children; it surprises me how little modern parents understand "discipline." They mistake that word for "punishment" and end up raising kids who can't control themselves.

Susan said...

I agree about discipline. I tend to think of it as providing structure, boundaries -- and there's a lot of evidence that children actually feel safer when someone defines boundaries for them. I remember lots of friends and family members, for example, who didn't have set bedtimes for their kids. Late in the evening those kids always looked so sad and almost scared and disoriented. I felt that adhering to a set bedtime was a kindness for my baby.