ARGH! Self-control is so much easier when you’re young and the adults are just choosing it for you:
My parents controlled how and when I ate, so I didn’t eat too much sugar.
The law of the land said I couldn’t drink alcohol, which meant I never got intoxicated.
My school required P.E. and sports so I was always getting enough exercise.
If I was making bad choices, (i.e. acting selfish, rude, arrogant, snobby) my parents stepped in to punish me and set me straight.
I wasn’t allowed to be alone with boys, I wasn’t allowed to stay up late…
All the issues that required self-control were basically being handled outside of myself.
They were adult-controled, and rightly so. I’m so grateful that my parents helped guide me through decision making. I have very little emotional baggage from my childhood and I have my parents to thank for that.
But, everything was black and white. Soooo, when something becomes gray, for instance when you turn 21 and drinking so no longer illegal you then have to use your own brain, exercise your own will, and make your own choices about how much is too much.
I often think these issues would be easier if the decisions could go back to being 100%.
It would be simpler to decide that alcohol is just always a sin. Or that sugar is simply never ok.
That one shouldn’t even own a television, and never stay up past 10.
I often toss and turn at night deciding things like: I’m just never going to drink alcohol again…
I’m going to throw out our T.V. and only use my phone as a camera, (and as a phone…like God intended.)
Black and White is easier.
This is part of herd mentality I think. Why some churches make certain issues absolutes, (like alcohol) why people of a certain mindset flock together.
Self-control is hard, mindless obedience is easier.
But, I didn’t sign on for easy.
I want to show my children how to properly enjoy the pleasures of the world without making them ‘guilty’.
How to relish a slow morning watching a movie as opposed to a life time vegged-out on the couch.
How to sip on a moscow-mull while visiting with friends around a fall campfire without subjecting them to a consistently intoxicated parent.
That the convenience of the post smartphone world is fantastic as long as we can balance out our screen time with actual human interaction.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. But the something in the middle is what requires work.
Self-control is difficult. Self-control requires discipline.
And discipline can mean training. . . but it can also mean punishment.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many people I love and admire that abstain from various matters, and for good reason. I GREATLY admire these people and believe that they are perfect examples of self-control. They know themselves, or their family histories, well enough to know better then tempt the issue. I hope to be like them.
I hope I know myself well enough to understand what I can and cannot handle. And I pray that God will continue to help me find the balance.
Give me the courage to cut out anything that’s causing me, or others, to stumble. But also the willpower to balance out the things I can control.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23