I’ve begun to see self-discipline as a form of gratitude. My recent trip to the poorest country in the western hemisphere made things clearer for me… here’s how.
Last week, I spent eight days in Haiti volunteering with the non-profit ImMe. I was joined by an awesome group of strangers who quickly became friends. We were all there to experience Haiti and become more knowledgeable in how we can help on an ongoing basis. We got the privilege of loving on some precious orphan babies, visiting a local coffee farm, seeing the beaches, and much more. Highlights, you ask? Well:
I ate goat. Twice. (Weirdest tasting chicken I have ever had…)
I adore college age girls (they are seriously the sweetest)
I am never eating rice and beans again.
I showered from a bucket. Thrice.
Haitians are genuinely kind people.
I’ve never seen that level of poverty anywhere else in the world. (I’ve been to 26 countries, 7 of which were 3rd world.)
As the trip came to a close, I couldn’t place what my main takeaway would be. I expected it to be a greater sense of urgency to go back or to do something impactful for the world in a big way. But to my surprise – my lesson was very simple. After arriving home, I was getting into my wonderfully warm (and running) shower when it hit me.
You see, I had been wrestling all day with a moral decision I had to make. I knew what was right to do, but since I wanted to do something else I had been deliberating all day. I put the debate on pause to enjoy my shower. I thought to myself “wow, I’m so grateful for this shower right now. It’s warm. There are no bugs. I can take my time. There’s water pressure… mmmm” and immediately I thought:
God has blessed me. If I am truly grateful for Gods presence in my life – how could I do anything other than what I know is right?
My gratitude for that shower served as much more than a warm moment I felt alone. It reminded me that I cannot choose to acknowledge Gods grace with one breath, and choose my superiority in the other. The biggest misconception my generation has about gratitude is that it is a feeling. It may be felt, but it is anything BUT an emotion. Gratitude is a source of reasoning. When you have truly grasped the depth and height and width of all that gratitude is – you cannot simply feel it. It is too big to be contained within your being. It mandates a release. It’s like a shaken up soda can. You give it one small crack, and it all comes pouring out.
How does this relate to self-discipline? Very simply:
When you are grateful for your time – you will not waste it.
When you are grateful for your body – you will not abuse it.
When you are grateful for your partner – you will love them.
When you are grateful for your finances – you will manage them better.
When you are grateful for your personality – you will not judge it.
When you are grateful for your destiny – you will not sacrifice it for fear.
I sincerely encourage you today to understand this: when you face a choice to choose right or wrong – healthy or unhealthy – remember what you claim to be grateful for and who you claim to be grateful to. That gratitude requires something from you at that moment, to honor the one who gave you all you have.
Your entire life will change.