Discipline to Challenge

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking... but not necessarily the good kind of thinking. Let me try to explain. Do you ever have chunks of time where you feel like all you are doing is worrying or having uneasy, not peaceful thoughts? I don't know about you, but I go through little spurts of this here and there. Usually I can recognize when I am feeling this way by noticing that I am especially anxious for no reason or just being really sensitive. And once I'm aware that this is how I am feeling, then I think it through, allow myself a little bit more slack and a few days later it wears off or something.

As of late, I have been struggling with this type of thinking for more than the typical few days. I have noticed myself being especially worrisome, self-conscious, sensitive, and definitely not confident. This is an uncomfortable phenomenon for me. Yes, these are things that I think everyone deals with daily. But we all have our ways of coping with them and feeling like we can conquer them, do we not? It has been starting to bother me that I feel like I am not reaching that place of peace where I feel like I have control over my thoughts. It makes me feel out of whack, like I'm somewhat of a crazy person.

Last night as I lay awake in bed, I was trying to sort through my thoughts and get to the bottom of this. And I feel there are many contributing factors that have brought me to this place of what I feel is not 'good thinking'.

1. I am not being challenged in my job. Taking a job at a boutique, I knew that it would be completely different from my past experience working as a Ministry Assistant with the college ministry. But what I didn't realize was how much it would affect me. I feel like my brain has slipped into a place of laziness because, well, what's the hardest thing I have to think about at a boutique... hmm what shirt will go with those pants? How can my boss operate that way, what is she thinking? Where should I put these scarves so they will sell faster? Yikes. Coming from a girl who loved developing a study curriculum for college students, and got really energized from writing and delivering a 25 minute message to students- feeling like I was in a place where I was constantly thinking about things that were challenging... this new place is really doing nothing for me.

2. I have not set aside time to do reflective thinking. As you can see based on the last time that I blogged, it has been quite awhile since I felt I had something to say. This is not okay for me. It really helps me to be processing out loud, via type or what-have-you. And to see that I have not done this, shows me that something is off, that I am clearly not myself or that I am disconnected for some reason. I have not given myself the chance, or Challenged myself to think deeper. To make my brain work in a different manner than what I have been doing in my 'working hours.'

3. I have not been digging deeper in my relationship with the Lord. This, above all else, is really what my 'funk' comes down to- I know that. Being in this new place in my career (can I even really call it that at this point??) I have allowed myself to become a lazy thinker. Not being challenged in my job, being pushed to challenge myself- I feel like I have become a more undisciplined person. Life is all about discipline, is it not? Disciplining ourselves to eat right, to work out, to study in school, to be kind to others, to spend time in the word. I'm digressing, but the point is... for me- I have let my disciplines fall to the wayside. I miss studying the word regularly. I miss being in a small group that challenges me, asks me hard questions. I miss reading books that push me to think outside my little box. I miss being self reflective. I miss feeling like I am making practical steps towards being transformed more into Christ's likeness. (Yes I realize God is the one who transforms us, but it takes our personal discipline too.)

What I think this all comes down to is this. I have gotten lazy. I have gotten complacent. I hate that word by the way because what good comes from complacent? I NEED to be CHALLENGED. That means first and foremost I need to really hype myself up, challenge myself to be in the word daily, to set aside time for reflective thinking, and to take a class, read a book, or do a study that is going to help me learn new things about/from the Lord. And secondly, I want to continue to ask myself- what am I doing? or- what can I be doing differently to challenge myself more? Maybe that will mean finding a new job where I am at least encouraged in my discipline of challenging myself.

I think I just figured it out. I think I finally put it to words... Discipline to Challenge. That's kind of an awkward title/phrase/whatever-you-call-it. But stay with me for a second. To challenge means "something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort..." The part that jumps out at me is the beginning - 'something that by its nature or character serves as a call." That's what I feel like I am missing!! I am missing the SOMETHING that is serving as a call for special effort.

As a disciple of Christ, He is the something that serves as a call to battle, contest, or special effort. I have been called by Christ to be His follower, to share His love with the world- and it is by His love, it is His nature that "serves as a call", that Challenges me.

Forgive me for blabbing on and on and on. But apparently I've gotten so out of the habit of thinking in this reflective way that it took me this long to realize where I was going with this. But here it is...

1. What I have been missing as of late is the reminder that I am constantly being challenged- that I am constantly being called to put forth special effort by Him to follow Him.

2. I need to be continually finding the other somethings in life that also serve as a call for special effort, that encourage me in my endeavors of the first, most important challenge.

PHEW!  I did it!  Finally feel like I had some "good thinking!!"   

As I leave you today, I am going to continue to process this realization that I made about myself this morning. I am going to take steps towards drawing nearer to the One who ultimately challenges me, serves as my call. And I am going to work on the practical aspects of my life, that help me build up that discipline to be challenged. May it be finding a different job, getting back into a work-out schedule... whatever it is- I need to make sure that the aspects of my life all come back to the Ultimate Challenge in my life- that is to Follow Christ as He calls me.

Let me leave you with a verse that God put on my heart today.  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9 (emphasis added)