November 14, 2016

When Discipline brings Shame in this Control Freak's Heart

Creating discipline in your life, serves you...until it doesn't.

A practical statement, but one that, I believe, has hidden layers of complexity within it.

If you don't know me well, allow me to enlighten you. I am an introverted, self-reflective, internal processor. Basically, I like to pick myself apart in quiet solitude - and no, I don't want to talk about it.

Don't let the vulnerability I show {:at least I hope I do because who needs another unrelatable writer in blogosphere?:} in my blog post fool you. Yes, I enjoy being vulnerable here because I believe it is how other people relate to you and in some way breathe a deep sigh of "you too? I thought I was the only one." And, thats what I desire. It's what we need. However, my vulnerability only comes after a lot of digging around in this head and heart of mine. I rarely share the things I am sorting through at the moment. I wait a a good week before pressing the "publish" button...

The other day I was neck deep in my inner world. I was thinking about one of my strengths: discipline.

My discipline serves me well. My world is pretty ordered. I like it that way. I like discipline. I like structure. Basically, I like control. For the most part, my discipline, structure, and controlled life serves me well. I go to church when I don't feel like it. I eat the kale instead of the french fries. I hit the pavement with my running shoes instead of hitting snooze most mornings. I can find all of my files easily because they are perfectly organized in files on my USB and I can juggle several plates all at one time. All these traits, and even dare I say strengths, serve my life well. Until, they don't.

What I found as I was rooting around in my inner world is that some of my greatest strengths have created some of my most significant and debilitating weaknesses. As they usually do.

I pride myself on being in control, disciplined, and structured. This means I have little time for chaos, slip ups, or the interruptions in my already very scheduled life. And wouldn't you know that life just happens to be filled with the whirlwind of chaos, the plethora of slip ups, and the frequent interruption.

I realized that these same strengths that have gotten me to where I am now in life, can no longer sustain me where I am going. My world is getting bigger and what I feel God is calling me into can hardly fit into a box, be scheduled into my iCalendar, or something even the best intended disciplines will allow me to control. But I want to go! I want to go on this adventure with God forward...but it dawned on me that shame is holding me back.

I had to dig around a bit deeper in my head and heart to see where this shame was coming from. Holy Spirit showed me that it was tied to my desires for discipline, structure, and control. So, I feel shame when I am less than disciplined with my habits. I feel shame when I cannot control a situation and find myself attempting to control other things, or worse, other people. I feel shame when I fail to miss this etherial "mark" I have set for myself of what a woman living in the center of God's will looks like. I feel shame because I love being the "have it all together girl" that I am actually not - no one is. But I like to be that girl. I want you to think I am even though I know I am not. I experience shame when I feel like I don't live up to God's expectations.

This is a misunderstanding of who God is though. He knows me. He knows my struggles and even on my least disciplined, unstructured day, when everything seems to be out of control - He still chooses me.

I came to the realization that day that the only thing shame does is breed fear - fear of other people's opinions, fear of how I will be perceived: Will they think I am a high capacity woman? Am I good enough? Do I live up to your expectation of what you think I should be? And it blocks me from Love {:aka God:}. The perfect love that casts out all fear. And here is the beauty of it, when discipline, structure, and control are in perfect harmony with Love they fulfill their purpose in my life and calling. They bring organization to chaos. They bring bring you to the safe center when the hurricane is swirling around you. They see a way forward when the weight of obligation and expectation press in. They serve me when they are centered in Love.

Our strengths only serve us, until they don't.
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