"And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;"
2 Peter 1:6
This verse is a snippet out of a longer list of positive qualities that we should cultivate in ourselves. I chose just this part of it today because I wanted to talk about temperance. As I was reading, I was wondering about it, so I looked it up: “moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint.” And reading further about it, it includes self-restraint, or self regulation. And although I am not dismissing the other virtues on the list at all... that seemed like a big enough thing to tackle in one day. :)
How many problems in our lives could we solve just with some additional self-control? We'd probably exercise more, eat less, do more laundry/dishes/cleaning, get out of debt, pray more, yell less, maintain happier relationships, be free from addictions... and I am sure we can all add to the list. So, if our lives would be so much better... why aren't we doing all of that? Answer: it's hard. :) But, as we can see from both God's advice to cultivate it, and our own lists of things that would get much better in our lives, it would be totally worth it. The question is, how do we tackle it?
I definitely don't have all the answers here. My life, too, would be vastly improved through some additional self-regulation. But perhaps starting with little things will help. The study that I read this morning compared self-control to a muscle... that it seems to get tired after a lot of use. I think that we've all seen this in our own lives... it can be easy to do a little bit, but harder to do a lot. Maybe, like a muscle, that capacity can grow with time. Whatever we want to start doing, or avoid doing, maybe we can build up the amount of time. If we want to read our scriptures, we can start small... one verse, or one minute... and get consistent with that. Then we can raise it to two verses or two minutes. If we want to learn to fast, we can start small. On fast Sunday, skip one meal, or don't eat anything until noon... whatever we can do. And then, next fast sunday, go a little longer. Whether we are adding a good habit, or learning to give up something, taking small steps that we know we can accomplish is a good start. Today, let's pick one thing that we want to get better at, and start taking the very small steps that will lead us to more control in that area.