Starting is difficult. It takes motivation and vision and the initiative to push the rock up the hill.
Starting again is even more difficult. Having already put the energy into the initial push, when the rock rolls down the hill either by choice or resistance one has to do the same work again with depleted resources. Not only that, but the resistance is doubled now that you realize the world did not end when the rock didn’t reach the other side the first time.
This has been highlighted most by my return to writing for the noggingrande blog, but I see it in every other area of my life where discipline is needed. Whether it’s what I eat, how we spend our money, or the way we use our time and get up in the morning, it is all more difficult to start again than it is to start the first time. While learning this, I have been listening to a lecture that N.T. Wright gave at Fuller Theological Seminary about the virtues, and wondering what would it take to make things that are contrary to my “first nature” become “second nature” in the way I live.
How do I become a person who chooses the wholesome food instead of the junk? What patterns and decisions must I practice to become a person who diligently works ahead and finishes what I start? Where do I find within me the willingness to get up and start the day with intention rather than hesitation?
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to become a better version of yourself? How have you taken steps to grow into that person and found success?
Certainly, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives makes possible the greatest transformation of all, but Wright’s lecture points out that we can play the role of cultivating the soil around the seed of the Spirit so that the fruit of the Spirit can grow more readily in our lives. I am testing this idea in the area of gentleness.
Gentleness is the attribute I most admire in my spiritual heroes. I want to be a gentle person, and so I am trying to cultivate gentle soil in my heart. I have decided that I can do this by softening the tone and volume of my voice, especially around Micah. Micah, our energetic toddler of 20 months, is into everything and it is easy to slip into a shrill hollar to call him down from the thing he ought not climb or to beckon him to come to me from across the room. I, however, would like him to respond to the gentle request as readily as a harsh call so I am actively working to bring my own volume down around him. My hope is, that it will work to point me to other areas where I can be more gentle.
What fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control) or virtue would you like to cultivate in your heart, and how would you go about doing it?
I also hope that I can make this a habit of my heart without having to start again, because I learned this week that it’s harder to start again than to start at all.