Why is it so hard to give up some selfishness and gain some semblance of self control? Do you struggle with this too? Please pray with me...
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Ephesians 5:1-2
You know I'm working on self control with my dog. [Sit. Down. Watch. Leave it. Aaaarrrgghhhh!!!!!!!! Stop DIGGING!!!!] And myself. [Focus on God. Quit the crabbies. Breathe in peace. Breathe out love. Be STILL.]
And unrelatedly, or maybe not, I'm trying to recuperate from patellar tendonitis and get back into running and working out. God, in your wisdom, this physical discipline is not a linear path, and orderly progression. It's more like one step forward and two steps backwards, with lots of aches and added pounds in the process. Can you give me some patience with this process?
Let's be honest. I'm not doing a bang up job in any of these departments of self control. God, I need your help. I lift these disciplinary efforts up to you.
Let's start with the dog. There are so many passions piled into my day, and that is a blessing. But I'm not consistent with training. And it shows, especially in the 18" holes he's added to the yard, the garden. Here's the sad thing: the pooch craves training. He's glued to my side in furry puppy love and affection. He wants my attention. (God, give me a slice of that eager devotion for you, please.) I'm just too scattered to spend enough time in that pursuit.
And then there is the physical healing. You've put great helpers in my path to recovery: my internist, an orthopedic surgeon, two physical therapists, a personal trainer, and now I've got another trainer/gifted healer lined up for a session of healing massage. (Thank you for their gifts, for working through them toward healing.) You've given me good health, but it's a package deal that comes with a hip that slides forward and knees that knock together and all kinds of alignment issues. I've spent hours on the floor grimacing through postural restoration exercises. Muscle engagement where I never knew I had muscles. Small, excruciatingly hard movements. So small that passersby comment: "Gee, that looks relaxing." "Taking a break?" Humph. I want to break them. In half. (God, more patience please. More kindness, por favor.) Can you blame me for taking a big, neglectful break from the physical therapy routine? Yeah, I thought you'd say that. It's just so slow. So hard. The results are so hazy vague. (Forgive me for whining.)
What I really need forgiveness for is my haphazard spiritual training. Forgive me for prayers that wander and dissolve before Amen. For times when I've let go and gossiped. When I've let bitterness slip. When I neglect the love letter of your Living Word. When I've served up service with a side of resentment. Forgive me for missed opportunities to pull my kids in close to talk about your unconditional love. For focusing on my shortcomings instead of inviting your grace. Your unconditional love is for me, too.
This morning — while walking/training the dog and engaging my core/working on hip alignment/tucking in my tailbone and praying — you gave me an epiphany. You interrupted the skittering thoughts scurrying across my brain. "But have you embraced any of these training efforts fully? Truly and fully?"
Oh, I am ashamed, God, for kidding myself and disgracing you. Forgive me for my haphazard efforts, my distracted devotion. For thinking I'm giving you my all when I'm really holding back a big fraction of my self. Forgive me most of all for trying to do too much (Dog training and walking and physical therapy and praying all at the same time? Really?) instead of slowing down, focusing, and letting you help.
You are constantly there for me, constantly caring. Help me to be that constant in my devotion to you. Help me to be that disciplined in being true to the way you want me to live. Train my tongue, my temperament, my time management. When the urge to abandon self control looms large, pull me in close to you and your perfect way. That is where I want to stay.