Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Answering a Question

A reader had this question for me: "Does sacrificing really how you fast through lunch? I'd just like more info on that for personal reasons. "

To answer the question, I don't think of it as sacrificing. While, the word sacrifice means "forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim," I prefer to think of it as disciplining. Replace the word "sacrificing" with "disciplining" in your question and the answer quickly reveals itself.

So, does disciplining really work? Absolutely. When faced with temptation, we have a choice to make. Giving in always leads to the pain of regret, while not giving in leads to the pain of discipline. That's really the choice we make when tempted; which pain will we choose: discipline or regret?

To look at a non-spiritual scenario, imagine trying to lose weight. To lose weight properly, you have be disciplined enough to stick to a diet and exercise a certain amount. Things are going well, when all of a sudden, maybe you have a bad day or something, but Mr. Oreo and Mrs. Ice Cream start calling your name. The pain of discipline here is not allowing yourself a treat for the greater good of losing unwanted pounds. The pain of regret here means that you scarf on the cookies and now have t0 work twice as hard to just to get back on track. Which is harder, more painful? Denying yourself a treat until the hunger pains go away (generally in 5-10 minutes) or making it so you have to exercise more, sweat more, be more disciplined, hate yourself for giving in, etc?

And that's the difference between discipline and regret. They both are painful to our human condition, but being disciplined is always, ALWAYS, the lesser pain of the two by a great amount.

Now, let's look at a more human scenario. Take sex, for instance. Sex is great, ain't it? There are so many wonderful, joyous things about sex. However, when we make bad choices with sex, it tends to bite us in the ass (literally if you're Richard Gere or get genital herpes). I mean, how many families are broken because someone had an affair. How many people have contracted deadly diseases because they made a bad choice in the heat of the moment. How many kids have single parents because in a moment of pleasure someone didn't think about the long-term consequences of that pleasure? Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of the pain of discipline vs. the pain of regret is that the pain of regret probably has repercussions to more than just the choicemaker, while through discipline, only the choicemaker is affected.

To get back to the question at hand, I have found that the more disciplined I become with my Christian faith and follow JC's teachings, the more God blesses me with his grace. Is that what you mean by "does sacrificing really work?" To be honest, the sacrificing, the disciplining is really about changing your attitudes, changing your life. If you would have met me five years ago, you would not believe I am the same person I am today. In the past two years, I have longed to be closer to God and changing myself, my attitude and my beliefs to that end. That means I have to be disciplined and give up alot of things that I take pleasure in. It's a daily struggle. But, the reward in the end is worth so much more than the pleasure I get out of ... well... choosing the pain of regret.

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