Discipline: Positive or Negative?

Let’s play a game!

When I say “discipline” what is the first word or image that comes to mind?







Got it?

Okay. Was that word or image positive, or negative?

Image result for discipline

Image result for discipline

Karate, Martial Arts, Sport, Belt

The reason I ask, is that I am noticing this morning that there are both positive and negative connotations to the word “discipline“.

And this might be because of the way, in experience, discipline feels. As children, we may have been disciplined by adults who wanted (hopefully) the best for us. At the time, the discipline felt uncomfortable, but looking back on it we might see how it was necessary and actually helped us. I think that is what the Bible is reminding us of, in this passage:

“At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”
Hebrews 12:11

This passage was my morning reading, and it was so timely for me! I live in an apartment unit that is in the downstairs of a house. Last night, the people who live upstairs were visiting. I usually fall asleep around ten, and last night, as I settled my head into the pillow I heard footsteps across the ceiling. Clearly, the people upstairs were still actively doing things. “Oh well,” I thought. “I am sure they will settle down soon.”

No such luck! The pounding footsteps and the sound of furniture sliding across the floor kept floating into my head for several more hours. By 3:30 I was really in a state of bother. I kept having thoughts like: “what could they possibly be doing?” and “what is wrong with them?”

At the same time, I was trying to feel peace. It is my goal to bring the peace of God into my life. I would like to feel it. To practice it. To invite it in.

I want peace.
I want to love my neighbor.

And if I can’t do that on a regular old Friday night, when there is nothing on the table except a few hours of sleep, then how can I expect to do it at all? I really felt like I needed to really, really try. It was interesting. The thoughts of blame and negativity kept pouring in. I felt like a victim (even though it was only in a minor way, I had to admit that it was there). I felt wronged. My neighbor was attacking me, in a way, through sound. These thoughts came even though I didn’t want them too. The annoyance was in my body. I could notice it, it my head and my stomach. Though  I wanted to feel peace, it was difficult.

I am starting to learn that the practice of walking the walk, and not just talking the talk, is very difficult! It takes discipline. It might not always feel comfortable. But the things that upset us — the times where we don’t exactly love our neighbor — are opportunities to practice, to ask for help, and to grow.

I am ready for the training.

Bring it on!

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