Saturday night could have ended badly for me. I don’t often hang out, but I was invited to a gathering and after a productive week, I decided to indulge in choice beverages. Fun was an understatement. We played games, laughed, and sang 90’s classics until someone brought in a speaker system with a built-in party light (I didn’t even know they made those) and transformed the event to a house party. Tables were moved and everyone was either dancing or getting danced on. Full transparency, the drinks and the mood had me looking through my phone for a satisfying way to end the night.
Here’s the thing, we’ve been talking about goals, and one of mine is to refrain from intimate activity during this period of pursuing a deeper connection with God. I distinctly remember unlocking my phone to send a text I would have easily sent months ago, but thinking to myself, “Na, I’m not going to open up that can again.” In this moment, I exercised restraint.
It’s easy to stay on track with our goals when the situation is perfect. But when faced with distractions or temptation, that’s when the real test comes. We have to know and prepare for our triggers.
We have to know and prepare for our triggers.
When I decided not to send the text, I found myself opening up multiple apps looking for attention. I checked Instagram, Twitter, and even Linked In, to see if there was a conversation in which I could engage. Finally, I caught myself and realized that I was repeating old patterns of looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places; I decided to open up my Bible app instead and finish my devotion for the day.
Yes, in the middle of a party, (during a dancing break) I was scrolling through scriptures, because that was the grounding for my weathering thoughts. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to walk around with a Bible or Bible app to stay on track; I am saying that we need something to keep us grounded if we are going to stay focused. For me, in this instance, my commitment to my spiritual goals saved me.
Restraint isn’t about perfection; it’s about discipline and progress. Because I am completing a devotion that has me reading the Bible in one year, I’ve had to discipline myself to read throughout the day. This practice has made it easy to zone out everything around me to focus on feeding my spirit. At the same time, the fact that I am breaking old habits, means that I may fall short sometimes, but the goal is to be on track more often than not.
It’s about discipline and progress.
In church, our pastor said to make sure your climate is good, even though you may have occasional bad weather (he said it a little differently, but this is how I recorded it in my notes). Essentially, he’s saying because we aren’t perfect, our goal is to ensure our general atmosphere is sunny (on track), even though we may have some rainy days (moments we stumble). We do this, by staying grounded, disciplined, and focused on progress.
As we wrap up this self-discipline series, know that you will be tested, but you are capable of exercising restraint. Take it one moment at a time. Your future self will thank you.