Redefining Deprivation

Discipline.png

This past month marks a full year since I launched blacksheepbaptist.com

So much has changed in that time frame, the arrival of a kid is the most life changing for sure.

In the next couple of weeks, I will finish a few papers and officially enter into my last year of divinity school at Wake Forest. Has it really been two years since Lauren and I moved to Winston-Salem? I often get sympathetic looks from folks when I explain my current life stage. “Yes, I’m a graduate student. Yes, I work two jobs. Yes, I’m a new parent….” Somewhere in the conversation they usually hit me with this, “My goodness, how do you get everything done?”

My answer: You just do.

Through preparation or procrastination, papers get done. Through heavy coursework at school, job responsibilities still get done. Through late night diaper changes, early morning readings with coffee still happen (all of this is done with a heavy dose of spousal support). How do I manage to make all this semi-work and, at times, even thrive?

Discipline.  

Now before you think I’m a typical “type A” over-organized individual, let me assure you I’m not. I imagine I, like most people, have things they do extremely well. For me, it happens to be academic work (Lord knows I’ve been in school long enough to know what works and what doesn’t). For me, academics pertaining to what some would call ministry is important. When I get up early or stay up late I don’t feel as if I’m depriving myself of anything since I’m spending time doing something I enjoy. Spending time with my family is an even a better example.

But what about the things I’m not crazy about. Now that’s a completely different story.

Up until the time I met Lauren, I would become infatuated for several months with hitting the gym. When we met I was on a routine of heading to the gym early with a good friend for a 6am workout. I enjoyed lifting weights and the camaraderie it brought. Plus, I thought because I was lifting and doing some cardio I could eat pretty much what I wanted. This cycle went on from the time I was in my mid-twenties, but as I got older and my schedule and responsibilities changed I found less and less time to go to the gym. Like many a newlywed, I watched myself put on 35 pounds over a five year period. Poor meal choices and little to no exercise was the culprit. I felt like crap and watched some of my favorite outfits get shoved deeper and deeper into the back of our closet.  I tried getting back in shape, even as early as this past summer when I signed up for Crossfit. But a limiting budget and a hectic work and school schedule made it easy to walk away from after 3 months. This past Christmas I stepped on a scale and was confronted with a weight I’m pretty sure I had never been at before.

I knew I needed a change. Two things happened with spurred me on; a close friend’s close call with heart failure (it’s a very real moment when you do a hospital visit and the person is your age) and the approaching due date of Violet. However, this time around I didn’t run to the gym. I ran to the one place where I knew I had little to no discipline…my dinner plate. I began a life-altering eating plan which has made me conscious of everything I put in my mouth. I track each bite through an app and weigh myself twice a day. I’ve heard many people say you shouldn’t “tie yourself to the scale”, but in my experience, this is how I keep myself accountable. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me. Here at the beginning of May, I’m down 30lbs and I’m closing in on my goal weight.  Why was this time different? The only thing I can say in regards to that is I just decided that this time it was going to be different. I put my time and focus into this much like I do with my school work and the success I saw in the classroom made its way onto the scale.

Scripture speaks of the importance of discipline. The books of Hebrews, 1st Corinthians, and Titus have verses stressing the importance. I’ve looked at them in a new light in the last few months and seen that discipline is needed in all areas of my life and not just the ones I deem as important. I often thought about the time when Jesus proclaimed in Matthew Chapter 11 that his "yoke was easy and his burden was light" I kinda saw the opposite, but the longer I'm on this yoke of being aware of what I put in my body I see how "light" it really is. Jesus is saying that when you come along beside me, what was once hard and difficult won't seem that way for long. I'm not trying to compare picking up one's cross to picking up one's fork...yet then again, maybe I am? 

Every now and then when I decline a doughnut or something sweet when I’m out with friends I get asked why I didn’t partake. I try and explain and sometimes I get hit with, “But one doughnut isn't gonna hurt you” or "Do you really have to deprive yourself like this?” You see this is where deprivation needs to be redefined and, in this case, I’m the one who gets to define it. Deprivation is me not being able to wear the jeans I want. Deprivation is me getting winded way too fast when I play with the students at the church. Deprivation would be me continuously making unhealthy life choices while my daughter grows older. I don’t feel deprived at all not being able to eat a large bowl of spaghetti. If anything I feel freer than I have in a long time. Even if that means I'm only able to have one round of Guinness at the pub. Cheers to that one round, amen.