Discipline

“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it”

-Hebrews 12:11 (NAB)

I was a boy living my own life for a long time. Christ had always been a “part” of my life but for a long time, He was nowhere near the top of my list. That all changed when my daughter was born. While my wife was pregnant, I had flirted with my faith again but I was more or less going through the motions.

I ate too much, I drank too much, I didn’t work out, I didn’t pray enough, I missed mass too often. I was just floating along with nothing to guide me, just doing what I wanted to when I wanted to do it. One day I was just sick and tired. Sick and tired of being fat, tired of being lazy, tired of being a marginal husband and father, tired of being a lackluster Child of God. I needed discipline and a routine.

After New Years 2014, I sat down and thought about the areas of my life I needed to work on and came up with a system to work on them. I told my wife and my church group about it so they could hold me accountable. Obviously these might not work for you and can be tailored but the important part is to make sure it works for you.

The categories I brainstormed in no particular order:

1) Scriptural Resolution

-I listen to Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd on SiriusXM’s The Catholic Channel. Every year, Gus makes a “Scriptural Resolution”. The whole point of this thing was to become more disciplined. I forget exactly how I found this verse, but I knew immediately this was it. Hebrews 12:11.

“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it”

I needed to live out that passage every day.

2) Emotional

-I started keeping a journal. I wrote down what I was feeling, things that happened to me, reflected on the liturgy from the day’s readings, sometimes even wrote “I don’t feel like writing today”. I even chronicle progression in my daughters developments. Keeping a journal to sort through my thoughts was crucial to work through what was going on in my head.

Occasionally, I will go back to old entries. I can see and feel the progress I have made in the months since I started it. It really makes me feel empowered.

3) Physical

-I committed to working out and eating right. I was about 50 lbs overweight when I started and needed to be healthier and take better care of the body that God gave to me.

4) Financial

-Financially we were “fine” but we needed to clean up our organization and commit to saving more for our future. We needed to do what God wanted us to do with our money. We were living paycheck to paycheck and seeing how much was left over. We needed to start telling our money where to go and not the other way around.

5) Marriage

-The sacrament of marriage is one of the greatest gifts God has given to His people. I needed to ensure that every day I was bringing something positive to that sacrament. Complimenting my wife, helping with something around the house, doing something “extra” became a priority.

6) Compassion/Kindness

-Too often, I was getting caught up in my day. Traffic, frustrations at work, etc. God sends everything to you for a reason, how you react to it is a direct reflection of how you value God in your life. Going out of my way to be more compassionate/kind was part of that. In a situation where the “old” me would react negatively, I would make an effort to react positively.

7) Work

-”And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”

-Colossians 3:17

I was struggling to see the value of my work and the field I was in. One day, this verse hit me in the form of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Do Everything”. I realized I needed to be an example of Christ in my workplace, regardless of how I thought my work was contributing to the Kingdom of God. I committed to doing everything not for my glory, but for His.

8) Spiritual

-Keeping my Bible close became a priority. I made a point to read the daily liturgy and read the reflections from The Word Among Us as well as Gus Lloyd’s 60 Second Reflections. I can’t tell you how many times those daily readings applied to something that was going on or happened to me that very day.

I am lucky enough that my parish has perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. I rarely took advantage of it until my routine started. I would frequently find myself driving home at the end of a two-hour traffic filled commute and just feel drawn to go 10 minutes out of my way to the Adoration Chapel. Sitting in the presence of Christ helped me in many difficult times.

9) Rosary

“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the rosary”

-Hugh Doyle

-I was apprehensive of this quote when I first read it but I have found over time, this is 100% true, for me anyways. When I stop saying the rosary, sin creeps back into my life.

I was lacking an internal peace within my mind. Quietly praying the rosary for 15-20 minutes every morning brought me that calm that I was missing. I wasn’t big on the rosary when I started and I didn’t understand it to be honest, but it obviously works for millions of people so I stuck with it. By spending time with Jesus through Mary, I have gained untold spiritual strength.

10) Confession

-”And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.’”

Christ gave us the sacrament of reconciliation and with everything I was doing in thought and deed, I needed all the help I could get. Find a confessor and stick with him. While the first few confessions were generic words of encouragement coupled with penance it began to develop into much more than that. It was a dialogue with the priest who was in persona Christi. Confessing my weaknesses and transgressions and having that conversation on how to be better would leave me re-invigorated to live for Him. Knowing that I was going to be in that confessional affected my daily choices. Like I said, find a confessor and stick with him.

The Results:

I organized all of these in an Excel sheet and set up a “scoring system”. One point for a good day, zero points for a neutral day, minus-one point for a bad day. I colored the cells on a green, yellow, and red scale. At the end of a month I have a full, color-coded visual of how I did for the month. There is nothing more powerful than having an honest assessment of how I am performing on a daily and monthly basis in every important category in my life.

Maybe these categories don’t work for you, maybe you cringe at the thought of Excel spreadsheets (I got plenty of jabs for it!), but the important thing is identifying the phases of your life that are important, being honest with yourself, and developing a system to hold you accountable. You must commit to getting better each and every day. Has it been difficult? Absolutely. Have I finished green in every category every day? Absolutely not. But I am honest with myself and God.

So where am I today? I’ve lost 30+ lbs, I have a 100+ page journal, my wife and I are on the path to get our financials in order, I try to say at least one rosary every day, and I am in my Bible as much as possible. I’d like to think I am a better husband and father than I was a year ago. Most importantly, I am closer to God than I was one year ago. Am I perfect? Far from it. Will I ever be? No way. I am going to struggle every day. Developing a daily routine that holds me accountable and sticking to it keeps me away from the fire and closer to Him.

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2 Responses to Discipline – The Daily Routine

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I

    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing

    all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say superb blog!

  2. Outstanding….these are the things that Iron Disciples do.