So who got the “Self-control is saying, ‘no,’ self control is saying, ‘that’s enough'” song in your head when you read my blog title? Oh, well, I did 🙂
I’ve been working my way through the week on self-control in Living Beyond Yourself. I have to say, I’m enjoying it way more than I thought I would. Not that it’s a bad topic, but sometimes I get frustrated with the shaming that often comes in Christian circles over lack of self-control.
I loved that Beth Moore talks about how self-control isn’t something we can develop because it’s fruit of the Spirit. We can practice surrendering to the Holy Spirit, but we can’t get more self-control, if that makes sense.
But the main thing that hit me was that a lot of the time, self-control is about saying “yes” to something more important. We do need to guard what’s been entrusted to us, to put borders around our calling (2 Tim. 1:14). We do need to create margin and space for us to be able to be the people we’re called to be and do the things God’s prepared in advance for us to do. Like I’ve said before, if we’re rushing and too busy, we literally don’t have space in our lives to love. And putting borders up does mean saying “no” sometimes.
In one of this week’s lessons, Beth Moore contrasted Samson (Judges 13-16) and Daniel (Daniel 1:1-21; 6:1-28). Samson’s life was characterized by a lack of self-control. He indulged himself all over the place, despite being called to keep a Nazarite vow. Daniel was characterized by self-control. He refused the king’s food and had a rich spiritual life as well as living in such a way that nobody could find anything wrong and he could tell the king that he’d never wronged the king–pretty amazing!!
The thing that really hit me though was how Samson’s lack of self-control weakened him. I don’t know about you, but the times when I lack self-control are often when I’m feeling overwhelmed and want a break. Twelve-step isn’t joking when they talk about “HALT” and not making decisions when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I let myself lack self-control and instead will binge read or some other activity to try to manage my stress.
The crazy thing is that that lack of self-control a) weakens me instead of helping me be less stressed/overwhelmed/tired and b)is a symptom of a different lack of self-control. I lack self-control in taking breaks and resting. If I’m healthy enough to push through my day, I do it until I collapse. I’ve been really convicted lately that I need to create margin in my life in order to do anything well. And part of creating margin, is being self-controlled about taking breaks when it’s time to take breaks.
So, self-control isn’t just about saying “no”–it’s about saying “yes” to the things that are more important. “Yes” to creating margin. “Yes” to our callings. “Yes” to following God. All those “yeses” actually end up being way more fulfilling and restful than a constant “yes” to whatever we crave on a moment by moment basis.
So how can you put borders around your calling? And what can you say “yes” to that you’ve been neglecting?