Freedom and discipline sound contradictory, right? We all want freedom- especially as teenagers. The idea of freedom becomes an idol even though we have not yet learned a very important fact:
“Absolute freedom is absolute nonsense! We gain freedom in anything through commitment, discipline, and fixed habit.” – Richard Foster
I’ve been re-reading “Blessed Are The Misfits” by Brant Hansen now that I have a paper copy and can underline things.
This time around, chapter fourteen made me think more than the ones before it.
At first, I defensively thought that Brant must be wrong saying that freedom is found by struggling, by discipline. It ruffled my feathers because I am not one naturally inclined to be disciplined, though part of me longs for it. Freedom comes from a lack of rules, right?
I began to think of examples of how this could be and one immediately came to mind: piano.
I am naturally musical, which is both good and bad. It’s good because I’ve been successful at any instrument I have attempted; it’s bad because I never stuck with any of them (seven and counting) long enough to be excellent (except for vocals). I would get to a certain level and get bored, so I would quit.
I learned really early in life that I didn’t have to practice (or study) very much to fool my piano teacher. She would praise me and say that she could tell I had worked hard, but I hadn’t. I was only eight years old at the time. I convinced myself that my natural ability was enough and that I could be lazy. This discovery carried over to school because I realized my natural intelligence allowed me to not work as hard as others and still get good grades. We are all inclined to laziness (read Proverbs!), and mine manifested itself through music and school.
How is this related?
Because I didn’t give my all to practicing and continuing to play piano, I am restricted to the notes on a page and am unable to improvise. I am confined by my limited ability despite my desire to play more difficult pieces.
Discipline brings freedom. As Brant said, “We find freedom by losing it (page 135).”
“Anyone who does only what comes naturally, who abandons the struggle, will wind up being less than what he or she could have been. And, like Jesus said, anyone who loses his life for His sake…will find it.”
– Brant Hansen (pg. 136)
Piano is just one of the examples in my life of how I could have found freedom had I applied discipline and embraced the struggle. If I had stuck with it and worked hard, where would I be today?
I could list so many more examples of laziness and lack of discipline in my past.
However, I want to stop the growth of that list in my future by embracing and implementing more discipline in my life and by surrendering myself and my natural tendencies to the power of discipline (and to Jesus) when necessary.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
Hebrews 12:11 NLT
True freedom in this life comes from surrendering your life to Jesus. It comes from living the way He told us to live, and not the way our hearts think we should go. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but it’s the truth. Jesus said so. 😉
Now it’s your turn: In which areas does this resonate for you? What can you do to make a change today?< em>(Also, you really should pick up “Blessed Are The Misfits” as soon as possible. It’s so worth the read (and re-read)).