I want to expound upon something I said in an earlier post:
“Discipline, then, becomes our true key to freedom, for it is through discipline that we become who we are called to be. It is when we place our impulses under our higher calling that we have proper perspective.” –From Disciplining Our Appetites
In all areas of discipline, especially in the discipline of fitness, we presume that it is what we do that matters most. If I want to be fit, I must do certain things to be who I want to be. This seems intuitive enough. If I want to lose weight, I need to exercise and eat better. While it is true that I must do certain things to get the desired results I want, I am not sure that doing is our best place to begin.
The foundation for being who we wish to be does not start with what we do, but who we are deep in our heart. If we want to do better, we must become better. We must allow grace to allow us to be better. By the grace of God, my dispositions must change, or I will too often give into my appetites, my wants for immediate pleasures and ease, and discipline will always be frustrating.
Discipline, a category in which exercise certainly falls, flows from who we are. We do not give ourselves over to a way of living unless our hearts are disposed to want what the discipline provides and want it enough to suffer for it. Sadly, it is this lack of true desire that has led us to believe we can obtain goals through shortcuts. But, results that last are results that spring up from a heart of discipline. It is then that we can do what is needed. In other words, who we are at our core most often dictates what we do, not the other way around.
There is a give and take here that we must note. While it is true that being is foundational and a key to helping us do, it is not as if doing can never help us become. Disciplining our appetites is a crucial practice that assists our hearts in understanding the benefits of God’s way. In other words, “Don’t knock it, until you try it.” Sometimes doing what we are told (whether by parents, and elder, a superior, or God) even when we do not get the reason why, shows us something about who we are and what we need to be:
One might think that he or she does not wish to be disciplined because he or she does not think he or she has what it takes. Doing can help us be when we allow grace to inform our reasoning on the given matter. As James’ suggests: Faith is completed in works (James 2.22). In other words, works can help solidify what we have set in our hearts to do. But, once again, it starts in the heart. Faith is first; works complete and solidify our faith. Our actions, as James tells us, will inform our heart that we are on the right path, if we are living out of faith.
In the end, if we wish to sustain right living, we must make it a part of our being, engrained in the soul, and not about mere resolution to do the difficult things we wish not to do. We have to want it on the deepest of levels, not in a motivational sort of way, but in that character forming sort of way. Virtues we wish to obtain cannot be separated from our identity. We need to proclaim that we are people who promote health before we are a people that pursue health. We must set our minds to be what we wish to be. We also must allow God to mold the heart so that we can be who we need to be.
In the end, who we are dictates what we do. If we want to be fit, our hearts need to be disposed to want fitness to the point of discipline, for our actions exude from our hearts:
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil…” (Luke 6:45)