Joyful energy filled the room. Smiles wide, eyes bright, hugs abundant. Aromas of cinnamon, coffee, and fresh baked muffins mixed with the sweet smell of the infants swaddled to new moms entering the room. It was the first day of a new year of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). And what a celebration it was!
Until we read the theme verse for the year:
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Cue sound of tires screeching to a halt. Instantly our eyes glazed over.
Self-control. It comes with the connotation of restriction, deprivation, rules, and… boredom.
If we have self-control, doesn’t it mean we never eat the yummy stuff? Or spend 3 hours reading a good book (especially if there are dishes to do and laundry to fold)? Or watch our favorite TV show? Or even take a nap when there’s a spare moment in the day?
Even worse, it conjures guilt as we compare ourselves to others who seem to be naturals at this trait. Like the woman sitting next to us with the 2 month old infant, who gets up every day to run at 5 a.m. and makes the Proverbs 31 woman look like a slob.
We’re already giving so much in our lives as women, wives and moms. What value is there in cultivating self-control on top of it all?
Courage and power… instead of fear.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power…” The original language for the word “power” is inherent strength. You have – right now, whether you know or see them – unique gifts and strengths that make you specially equipped for your life, relationships and challenges. Your strengths don’t look like the person next to you, so stop studying her to find out what you’re supposed to be doing in your life! When you choose to step into them, it’s like Cinderella in the glass slipper – it just fits… perfectly.
Not that life is perfect, but when you know who you are and Who designed your gifts and strengths, fear melts away and courage replaces it.
Figuring out your strengths might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out the books and websites below for some resources to get started.
Love… instead of distraction.
When we’re looking at everyone else around us to find out what to do and how to live life well, there’s no space to see the people we love. To really see them. To spend time, undistracted and fully invested in who they are and the relationship we have. When we live in our strengths instead of focusing on others, life becomes fully, brilliantly ours instead of seeming like some black-and-white version of it.
Peace… instead of chaos.
You know that moment when you’re rushing to get ready for work, your toddler’s tugging at your leg for a hug, your hubby wants to know the plan for dinner and date night later in the week and your 9 year old needs you to check that last homework problem… and you feel like an A-bomb that’s just about to incinerate a square mile around you? (Not like I know about this or anything…)
What if we’d finished homework the night before, as part of the routine? What if we’d gotten up when the alarm first rang instead of hitting snooze 3 times (which would also mean getting to bed an hour earlier the night before).
What if we took a day every quarter to evaluate our family’s activities and commitments – to be strategic in how we spend our time… so we don’t live life as a blur?
That’s the power of self-control. It’s about strategic living. About building our values into our life, down to the little things. It’s not about cutting out everything you enjoy. Or about getting up at the crack of dawn to run 4 miles every day. It’s about fully taking hold of who YOU are and what YOUR FAMILY values. And sticking to that so fear, distraction and chaos aren’t life’s defining characteristics.
So what’ll it be? Embrace self-control and find abundant life through it? Or fight it and keep resenting the jogger with the baby next to you?
I’d love to talk with you about what you find and how to use it in your life. Email me for a free 1/2 hour coaching session to put the above resources to use!