Here I have been, a sorry soul, a slathering slave to Minecraft. Here I have been, an idiot who stays up late… then gets up late. Here I have been, a fool reading trivia at all hours and then having nothing to say. Here I have been, a prayerless pagan cursing myself for getting nothing done.
Priorities and discipline are the words I want.
The truth is, we all do what we most want at the moment. If we have no discipline we give in quickly to what we want. If we have discipline, we think if this is what we should most want, and then we change our heart accordingly. If I should want a Coke, I will want a healthy body more. If I should want to goof off at work, I will want to be a good worker more. If I should want to waste my time just a little longer, I will want to read the Bible more.
Those are examples. They may or may not be true. But they reveal how decisions are made and temptations defeated. The “way of escape” spoken of in the Scriptures is not some handwavy prayer that instantly changes your heart. No, it is the grace God gives you in the act of asking to think on what you should desire more.
Your conscience is another form of this. When I am tempted to sin, sometimes I think “I don’t want to do this, this is not what I want”, but there is another desire raging inside me, speaking without words but still reasoning against the protest in my mind. I will decide at that moment which thing it is that I desire more. It’s not logical, or else the conscience would win every time. That is what proves that it is a matter of the heart, what it desires.
I’ve been listening to Flyleaf a little bit recently.
Telling Layla’s story spoken
‘Bout how all her bones are broken
Hammers fall on all the pieces
Two months in the cover creases
More than most
Ready to smile and love life
And she knows how to believe in futures
All my complaints shrink to nothing
I’m ashamed of all my somethings
She’s glad for one day of comfort
Only because she has suffered
Similar ideas have been in my mind for a while. My best friends were in a car accident a little more than a year ago. It’s only in the last few months that the idea has come back to me. What I mean is the feeling of clarity you sometimes get after such a catalyst—”now I know what really matters”. Depending on what happened, it may last for a while, or it may completely change your view and ways of life, as unignorable as a trainwreck.
I think it may be nearly impossible to induce that speed of change voluntarily. You don’t walk out to try and almost die. No, it has to be unexpected for the clarity to come that way. Instead, it comes and stays little by little. A habit actually doesn’t take very long to make. Months and years can forge it into part of who you are. Yes, it’s steady small change, steady work that can bring a clarity for what really matters. I think I may call this state, when enough accomplished, Wisdom.
Either way, when you know, you act, and you feel alive, finally fully alive. Too short of a life to be scared. You know what’s worth doing, and you do it, and you feel… right. Like everything has fallen into place, like a mosaic puzzle solved in a violent burst.
You Now, You Later, You Know
I learned to think about myself in the future from You Are Not So Smart.1 You have to make what you ultimately should want the most important thing at all times. And you need a plan for when you are inclined to think differently. One resolve blown off is of little effect. A lifetime worth of blowing resolves off is just worthless.
One day I hope you’ll stop watching TV and getting up late and eating lazy food and getting drunk and nagging instead of loving and reciting instead of praying and taking instead of making and getting by instead of living. Because real life, real life hurts more than you ever knew it could and it feels better than you ever knew and it fills you up and you can’t help but worship. You’ll be full and you’ll explode and it’ll come out of your fingers and toes and people will say ‘what the hell is up with you because I LIKE IT’. And you’ll know what to say.2