*Originally posted Oct. 28 2010

Eating a fun-size Butterfinger at eight o’clock in the morning is probably not a good idea. But unfortunately,  it was too early for that thought to register in my brain. So when my 19 month old son ran over to the five gallon cauldron of candy we filled last night for the upcoming trick-or-treaters and started grabbing candy bars out of it, naturally, I picked up the pot and placed it out of reach on top of the fridge. As for the lone two candy bars lying on the floor, I gently laid them on the counter… eyeing the Butterfinger.

As I was buttering his toast, I opened the candy bar and took a bite. About five minutes after eating it I sat down to my bagel and felt sick to my stomach. Then it hit me. Did I just eat a Butterfinger before breakfast? Have I had coffee yet? I couldn’t eat my bagel and shmear. One bite and I felt even queasier. What a great way to start the day, I thought.

Eventually the queasiness left me and I finished my bagel and made some coffee. For lunch, I had a spinach salad. But the Butterfinger incident got me thinking. I really am not a disciplined person. I’m not a lazy person, but disciplined, goal-oriented? Not so much. Every day I make to-do lists and I’m a stay at home mom! Every day I have a list of tasks I need to accomplish, when (who am I kidding) most things could hold off until the next day. I keep a clean house, pay the bills, take care of the dog, feed, bathe, and play with my kids. I run errands, write notes, organize, hang out with friends and so on. But if someone were to ask me if I was disciplined I would have to say no. And it has nothing to do with having two children. (I know this because my sister-in-law, who has four kids under six, just ran a marathon last month.) Yes, kids keep you busy and sleep deprived, but she is proof that there is still room for discipline in our lives.

So even if I don’t lay on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons all day, my lack of discipline does come from a sort of laziness. It is easier to sleep in, rather than get up at 6 am to go work out or read my Bible. It is easier to eat something prepackaged rather than wash, peel and slice a fruit or veggie. It is hard to take time and sit down to write. It’s hard to give when money is “tight.”

Laziness is definitely involved. Yet there is also instant self-gratification at work in me. Candy tastes good. Sleeping feels good. And if I’m honest, it is so much more tempting to buy myself a new sweater or pair of shoes than write a check for someone in need, even though what ultimately feels good is giving, healthy living, and all those other things I am short-changing myself on.

So what do I do? It’s like Paul complained in Romans 7. “No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” Or I eat a Butterfinger.

It’s our sin nature. But self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, isn’t it?  Maybe I need a little more of the Holy Ghost in my life. How this all works has always been a mystery to me. We are, for the most part, unable to force change in ourselves. It is the Spirit of the Lord who works in us and through us, and if we draw near to Him, He will change our hearts and our behaviors. But we have a role to play as well. There are disciplines that require action from us, such as reading the Bible, praying, and memorizing scripture. Somehow these things work together in our metamorphosis into Christ-like people. (I hope to delve deeper into this in another post.)

Anyhow, what I am trying to say in all of this is that I am ready for a change. I am ready for a challenge. Ready to set a goal that I can work towards. Something I have to be disciplined to reach.

I don’t like challenging myself. I have far too many unkept new years resolutions reminding me of my failure to keep them. But as I said, I am ready to set my sights high–on a prize–and go for it. I need to. Although I know I will always struggle with self-discipline, even if Christ has freed me. It’s human nature, or at least my nature.

For fear of doing what I usually do and setting too many unreachable immeasurable goals, I am going to start slow. I don’t know yet what this “challenge” will be. I’ll keep you posted. But this I know for sure, no more Butterfingers for breakfast.

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