There are times when others speak into our lives words that are so true, simple, and profound that they have the potential to change us, on foundational levels, if we will allow their wisdom to penetrate and teach us.
Self-control is a topic rarely spoken of. It’s not a popular subject whether that be in regards to magazine “how to” articles, in sermons from pulpits, or in the pages of the latest book from your favorite self-help guru. Why? Because it’s difficult. Too often the words “self-control” cause us to conjure up ideas of sacrifice, abstinence, etc. Although these things are not wrong in themselves, there is something dreadfully lacking in a definition of self-control that is simply demanding that we try harder. In my experience, trying harder doesn’t hardly ever work (in regard to self-control) and even when it does it is a momentary victory, sure to be followed, eventually, with failure. We don’t need to get more motivated, we need a paradigm shift.
This past week I received an email from my dear friend, Kathleen (last name omitted for her privacy) on her experience and definition of self-control. I found it to be simple, wise and true to the degree that I felt it must be shared. I would invite you to rest in and meditate on her words. They are not easy and you cannot understand them in a hurry. Don’t worry about if terms she uses are different than those you prefer, or if her perspective varies from yours. If we can’t hear truth from someone who is different than us, than we probably can’t really hear truth at all.
I hope you are blessed and challenged by the two short paragraphs that follow here. Those who will seek Truth, desiring only Truth, and be willing to receive it when it’s offered, will never be disappointed.
The Remaining Factor
“Self-Control is to me, at this time, the Remaining Factor. When I am in Self-Control, I am Remaining in Love. If, however, I do not have Patience in a given moment, I have thus lost Self-Control. This pertains to any aspect of Love. If my heart is not in Forgiveness, then Self-Control has been pushed away. But if I can though small choices choose Love, Peace, Patience, Goodness; choose to be a participant in God’s Spirit, then Self-Control flows through me. If I Remain in Love, or in Peace, then it is through Self-Control in me that this Remaining is accomplished. If I have a goal of Love and choose to respond in Tenderness in a given situation, then Self-Control was the Remaining Factor for me to Be in Love, Stay in Love, manage myself in Love. Through many tiny choices I can choose Connection.
I can also not be afraid of the emotions of others… for one, because Jesus is not afraid of them (or of my own for that matter. I have come to know this well.) and two, because of Self-Control. We are given only ourselves to control and manage, so even if someone else lies, cheats, or says awful things, this can never control my actions or my heart because of Self-Control; knowing this, I always have a choice of what my response to the emotions and actions of others will be. Through Self-Control, I can remain in Love without having to be afraid of another’s choices. It doesn’t mean that another’s choices cannot hurt you, rather it means that even in the midst of pain, sorrow, happiness or joy that you can choose to Remain in Love, Remain in Peace... Remain. Self-Control to me looks like choosing to Remain; it is my Remaining Factor.”