“All scripture is God-breathed and useful…” And the beautiful thing is God knows exactly what scripture you need to hear at any given moment.
I came into work this morning miserable and disgruntled, as I usually am coming into my retail job. It’s no secret to my family or coworkers that I do not like my job. Being a cashier is not where I envisioned myself at the ripe old age of 32.
But how to escape it? Bills have to be paid, so money must be procured. Despite my grumblings, I am grateful to be employed at all. But more and more every day, I want to be home. I want to be home raising our son and working on our house.
Now, God has blessed me with creative talents, talents that could potentially be used to move closer to the lifestyle I desire. I can write, I can draw, I can sew. I can perform most “crafty” things easily. Ability is not the problem. What I lack is self-discipline. And what I have struggled with, I think, is thinking I can create self-discipline on my own. And yet, time and time again, I have proved to be terribly ineffective at sticking to anything for an extended period of time. Well, except getting my butt up out of bed and trudging off to work. That and eating chocolate. I tend to rotate through my interests (I stick to writing for a month, then I spend a month crocheting, then I cross-stitch, etc.).
I’ve certainly read plenty of tips and advice on how to build healthy habits, change yourself to be more effective, achieve your dreams, and similar nonsense. But that way of thinking is a trap. In it, you must achieve those goals through sheer will…and that is something many of us lack. I certainly do. Thinking that your dreams can only be achieved if you do X, Y, and Z will ultimately lead to you letting yourself down when you inevitably fail in some way or another. That is a truth I’ve seen played out in my life many, many times.
But this morning, God gave me a little nudge, a little reminder that I do not have to rely on my own strength to achieve anything. In fact, the only way to achieve anything of real significance, real worth, is to rely on the help that only He can give.
I opened my study bible to a random page, though I was most certainly not in the mood to read scripture. I found myself in 2 Timothy, so I read through the fairly short letter. This verse jumped out at me:
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Holy moly. You mean self-discipline doesn’t come from the self? No, it really doesn’t. And it is such a weight off my shoulders. I read that and breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t know about you, but I frequently fall into the “only I can do it” way of thinking. With God’s help, I need to rewire my brain to instead think, “I can do it, but only with God’s help. And He is far, far better at this than I am.”
The novel I’ve been working on is one I have felt God pushing me to write. He wants it written, and He has made that clear in no uncertain terms. I got a large chunk (~24k words) of it written up during the 2017 NaNoWriMo, but plenty remains to be written. These past few months, I have let myself be distracted by other tasks and the nagging feeling that I just can’t do it, I can’t focus, it can’t be done, my writing sucks. That’s when the daily habit, the discipline, starts slipping.
Now God has stepped in – and really, He’s been waiting in the wings this whole time – and given me a gentle reminder that I’m not doing this on my own. He has given me a Spirit that is always there and more than willing to help me achieve my goals. His goals. Our goals. Because, if I’m in step with the Spirit, aren’t our goals the same? Doesn’t God seek to bless His children? He says as much in scripture over and over again, and I can sense that He’s promised as much to me. But we have to be willing to accept His help. We have to humble ourselves and say, “You know what? I can’t do this, not on my own.” We have to ask God for the strength and discipline to get the job done. And if we do that, He gladly steps in and helps us carry our burden.
So, starting today, I’m working on a new habit. Before I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I’m asking God for His guidance to get the job done that He wants me to do. I’m asking Him to give me the discipline to write instead of digging deep in myself to find it, because it’s not there. I’m a lazy, selfish creature, and He knows it, but He can help me grow into so much more.
All this to say…
My deadline for the completed rough draft for the novel 53 is Easter, April 1, 2018.
“I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13