Discipline. Hm. This is not a word I’m very well acquainted with. It’s true that there are many disciplined people around me and it’s true that I desire to be disciplined, but when it actually comes to BEING disciplined, I’m not.

There’s so much about the practice of this word that deserves respect. Power to the people that are naturally disciplined, and even more power to the people that have taught themselves to be such. I envy and admire each of you.

I tend to be more of a free spirit, more go-with-the-flow. I easily convince myself (although I truly believe it to an extent) that life this way is so much more fun and relaxed. I convince myself that some of the greatest of joys come from my easy-going manner. And yes, in some ways that’s true. But don’t we all eventually learn in life that so many more of the greatest of joys come from hard work and tough situations. When we come out on the other side, that’s joy. That is something to celebrate. I can’t really celebrate that something random happened to me and I took advantage of it, but I could celebrate working diligently towards a goal and achieving it.

I’m currently training for a half marathon and participating in the 10 days. Both are about bringing clean water to the thirsty, but before today, I never really thought about any deeper similarities. So as I’m sitting at my desk, plotting ways to get some energy with my co-worker and ironically the founder of the 10 Days, I felt like I was dying inside. At first, it seemed like I was dying of exhaustion. But later, I realized I’m dying to my cheap desires. I’m dying to the habit within myself that says that I can have a drink of whatever whenever I want. I’m dying to the habit of relying on caffeine to wake me up when I’m dragging through the day. I’m dying to the fact that when you get right down to it, I’m spoiled.

Now I can’t help that I was born where I was and I can’t help that certain things are social norms here, but I can help the fact that a little discipline and self-denial brings me closer to the story of those that go without.

As I said, I’m also training for a half marathon. And as I mentioned in a previous post, I am NOT a runner. I have had to have discipline on so many levels already and training has hardly begun! Twice a week, I wake up at 5am to go run before work. I love my sleep and although I appreciate being awake early once I’m up, I do not like actually getting up. No sir, mornings are not for me. But in those wee hours of the morning, I have found that the discipline has led to greater reflection on both myself and the reason I run. Sacrificing my sleep seems so futile to the bigger picture – people are dying in Ethiopia because they haven’t had rain in 5 years. 5 years, people! I’m sure they’re sacrificing way more than sleep. Oh spoiled me.

I’ve also been learning some serious mental determination with this whole running shebang. One foot in front of the other was my motto this morning, and how true that is for so many other parts of our lives.

So I’m learning about greater joy. Joy that comes from hard work, disciplined dedication, and a healthy perspective of my life compared to so much of the world. I encourage you to practice discipline today in some way or deny yourself something that you take for granted – may it produce greater joy on the other side.