My Journey to a New Self-Discipline
Updated: Jan 27
I am currently in my second year of running consistently. Yet, I wouldn’t call myself a runner. It’s something I’ve done on and off throughout my life, sometimes thoroughly enjoying, and other times dreading. There was even the summer my sisters and I had to run several miles a day as part of a consequence from our dad for a pool party gone wrong. Yikes! (Sorry dad, I hope I’m still your favorite 🤡) I know that as I get older I won’t be able to run, and it won’t be healthy for my joints in the long run–so something in me wanted to enjoy the time that I can run, and use it well.
While I’ve always been involved in some sort of athletic training and exercising (besides seasons of puking from morning sickness or other rough patches of motherhood), running consistently was a new venture–and one that I wanted to give up on the moment I started. It stunk. It hurt. It was not convenient. And I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. I really didn't want to chicken out but actually accomplish this goal, versus being sporadic and making excuses on the hard days. So something had to change.
Here's the steps I took to start and maintain multiple new habits in my life:
Burn the Ships
Leave the Harvest to the Lord
First, I had to COMMIT to the plan regardless of how I felt.
Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
While this scripture is addressing the discipline of a father to his children for their benefit, I believe that we can also use it in
the context of self-discipline. It is not easy disciplining the heart and mind–but the harvest is worth it. Discipline is training your body/mind to obey. It’s doing what you know you need to do regardless of how you feel. We do this all the time in other areas–making dinner when we don’t feel like it, taking the kids to school when we’re tired, wiping a snotty nose when we’d rather ignore the drip, cleaning up puke instead of running away, etc. (Yes, I know all those examples are solely from motherhood but you get the point!) There are things we just HAVE to do. Yay adulthood! When we are starting a new habit we need to have the same “got to do it” passion as we bring into motherhood each day. Committing to your goals–whether that’s exercising, eating a different way, reading more, sleeping more, spending less–is the first step. The first battle isn’t getting out of bed to run–it’s deciding the night before that I MUST do so. I’m committed. I refuse to let laziness, apathy, or defiance win. I’m PLEDGED to this goal. If this goal was my spouse I would view it as “I’m going to be loyal no matter what”. Loyal to my goals–not a cheater, not a slacker. It might start out as a task on my daily “to-do” list, but my prayer was that this goal would become second nature and reap a great harvest of and reward.
Next, I had to burn the ships.
This is one of my favorite lines from a King and Country song! They wrote this song (Burn the Ships) as a testimony from a family member’s struggle with addiction. The phrase, “burn the ships” means to make it IMPOSSIBLE for yourself to turn back. Just like conquerors sailing to a new land–burning the ships means they gotta stay and make this new land their home. If you’re addicted to pills, it means it’s time to flush them all. If you’re addicted to food, it means it’s time to throw ALL the tempting snacks out. If you’re wanting to get out of toxic relationships it means deleting all contact info and media accounts–no turning back. And if you’re trying to start a new venture of running every day/eating supremely clean, then it means that you make your body your slave to your goal. No excuses. You set out the workout clothes, set the alarm, ignore other tasks, and set your body in motion before your brain talks you out of it. Burning the ships means that YOU CAN’T GO BACK to the person you used to be. It’s scary cause you’re all in–there’s no escape--but it's also thrilling because you're becoming someone new!
When winter came I REALLY wanted to stop running. It was cold, dark, and honestly getting dangerous. There were days I had to stay home and could have used the weather as an excuse to do nothing. However, I had pledged to exercise every day, so I worked out indoors in different ways. I haven’t been perfect and have definitely missed a day or more–but I’ve gotten back to it just as quickly as I started–not waiting until the next Monday rolls around, or all the holidays or travel are over, etc. Burning the ships of excuses and being committed has been a game changer for me and this goal of running. And you’ll be surprised to see how I’m keeping it going (pic at the end)
When you gave your life to Jesus you knew that He wanted ALL of you. What’s crazy is that while we gave up our WHOLE selves to Jesus we actually got to walk away with MORE! God’s Word says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” God has already given you self-control through his Spirit! He is gonna help you with goals that honor Him and bring Him glory. Don’t be afraid to burn those ships. Whether you’re fighting an addiction, bad habit, or wanting to start a new healthy habit there are definitely ships you need to burn, and God's Spirit will give you the strength to do it.
Light that match.
Finally, I had to begin.
Just start. Don’t wait for the perfect day, time, week, or mood swing. Just begin! While I did need some new running clothes and shoes (which I eventually bought) I started with what I had. And fought against the shame and embarrassment of where that starting place was—slow paced, and breathing hard needing my inhaler. My “three kids” stretched out belly was jiggly and my feet were on fire but I was all in. Yes, I had to stop often at the beginning. It’s crazy to remember how horrible it felt and how many lies I had to fight in my mind (“I’m too slow, this isn’t worth it, everyone is making fun of me driving by” etc). When you’re pledged to a goal it ultimately doesn’t matter what others think or where your starting line is. Take pride that you’re starting. And keep starting over as many days as it takes till that habit becomes a part of you. They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit and 90 days to make it a lifestyle. I can attest to this.
Don't forget to leave the harvest to the Lord.
Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Whether you’re like David in Psalm 27 waiting on the Lord for deliverance from your enemies or waiting on the Lord to heal your body and defeat YOURSELF (the real enemy in the way of your goals)–all you can do is what you can do. The harvest of our goals, which really is our whole lives, is up to Him. When I’m running I’m often praising God for the strength to do so and for the beautiful view I’m spoiled to have. Throughout this goal I’ve prayed many prayers about strength to continue, healing for my body, and most of all that God would take my efforts and bless them, bringing me a harvest of health and strength. I want my disciplines to be evidence of God’s goodness and fruit within me–not something I just powered through and did. I can only do what I can do. But God can do more, and He is in the business of making all things new-our hearts, our habits, our bodies, our minds, and even our perspective of what success looks like. Do your part and wait on the Lord.
As promised, here is my current running situation.
Right when it was getting super cold a friend gave me her treadmill. It started in the garage but eventually got too cold and even heaters weren't helping. (My asthma really kicks in when I exercise in freezing temps). So, we moved it to the lovely storage room inside the garage. It's much warmer. There's no pretty view, no sunshine, and no alone time cause the kids can open the door at any time (I've realized that I really love to run for those things--sunshine, pretty views, and alone time). BUT, it's my "no excuses" room. I don't have the luxury of a glamorous workout room, but I am not letting that stand in the way of my goals. I'm getting it done in here till the streets are safer for me to trot down.