By Lisa Huddleston
“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrew 12:11).
God willing, most of us who are reading these words are about to enter a new year. 2011. It looks funny, doesn’t it? But very soon it will become second nature to us. We will write it and key it in and speak it so often that by the time 2012 rolls around we won’t recall this oddity we feel at the newness of the words. Two thousand eleven. It doesn’t exactly roll off my tongue. But it will. And I am hoping that by the end of 2011, some other new things I plan to put in place will be just as familiar.
I can’t help myself. The end of one year and the beginning of the next forces me to evaluate my life. And with evaluation comes action—or at least the hope of action. You can call these actions “New Year’s Resolutions” or “Goal Setting” or most likely “Guaranteed Failures.” But, my mind just can’t stay away from the prospect of achieving something better than I have yet. Despite my cynicism about my supposed success, despite my dismal track record, hope causes me to keep striving for the next thing.
A quick flip through the past year’s writing reveals that at this time last year I was searching for a “Word for the Year.” How many of you did that, too? I remember some of your words: perseverance, joy, peace, and so on. Some of you chose to keep them to yourselves. Others, like me, blasted them out loud so that our friends could hold us to them. (And, no, my new word for the year is not discretion!) My word was celebrate. I wrote that I would celebrate being who God had designed me to be—a learner and an introvert. In retrospect, I think it was a pretty good word. I entered the Master of Christian Studies program through Union University and enjoyed the new insights my reading, the teachers, and my fellow students provided. It was a year focused on these studies, and it was enriching.
However, I can also see the dark side of that goal. In choosing to celebrate my natural tendencies, I allowed myself too much freedom to focus only on what seemed good and comfortable. I spent countless hours sitting and reading. Good stuff right? That’s not what my mirror is telling me. It says, “Get off your rump, Lisa, and start moving!” Harsh, but true.
I also allowed myself to become something of a recluse. I’ve found it easier to spend time with friends on social media sites rather than face to face. And I’ve not spent the time I should investing in the relationships that really do matter to me.
As I ponder this shift to one side, I am reminded of what it looks like when I drive our lawn mower with the two handled steering. Back and forth. Right to left. Jerky and convulsive starts and stops. But doing my best to head in a straight line. Therefore, in the spirit of the season and the hope of straightening out my line, I have chosen a new word for this year: discipline. Not as “sexy” as celebrate, but a corrective that is both wise and timely.
This year, I resolve to seek more balance. To lessen the curves (physically and figuratively). To focus on the external as well as the internal. Sure, it may be painful at times. I’ve already taken some steps that have hurt a bit by getting back on the treadmill and curtailing my time on the computer—but I am confident the benefits will eventually outweigh the pain. Just as my tongue will grow accustomed to saying 2011, I pray that I will soon adapt to my new focus on discipline. I’m looking forward to the fruit!
Have you picked a “Word for the Year?” What goals are you setting? Do you have any resolutions you’d like to share out loud? I’d love to hear your thoughts!