I have a thing for basset hounds. I relate to them. They’re smart, but they can also be really stubborn. And lazy. And hungry. You’re not going to get a basset to do something that they don’t want to do. Try taking a basset on a walk when they don’t want to go, and you’re going to be dragging 60 pounds of dead weight with big ears through the yard. I feel this in my soul.
I, too, am a bit headstrong. It’s hard to get me to do something that I really don’t want to do. Which can be a gift, because I’ve gotten pretty good at saying “no” to things that don’t benefit me, but it can also be… well, not a gift. Being strong-willed isn’t something that’s always appreciated by others.
I know this can be aggravating to those around me, but it can honestly be aggravating to my damn self, too. I argue with myself constantly about things I know I should do, but don’t want to do.
I’m an adult with a husband and a kid and a business and hopes and dreams and goals. I live in a society that frowns upon going somewhere with no pants on. I want things and need things, and those things require money. So, because of all of this, I have to do things I don’t want to do. Responsibilities. *grimace*
Which is bullshit, but here we are.
I had a revelation the other day, though. My husband, Chase, said something that shifted my thinking.
“Did you go to the gym today?” Chase asked, not unkindly.
My shoulders slumped a little bit. “Ugh. No. I haven’t been in, like, 2 weeks. I just can’t get myself to go. I have no motivation. And I have no motivation to even try to get motivated. Nothing in me wants to go.”
“I understand,” he replied.
Then, after thinking for a minute, he said, “Maybe for you, it’s going to be less about motivation than it is about discipline. I enjoy going to the gym, so it’s easier for me to go on the days I don’t feel motivated. Just like it’s probably easier for you to paint or read or write on the days you don’t necessarily feel motivated to do so. Because you enjoy those things. So maybe look at it as a sort of discipline instead of something you do just when you feel like it.”
Now, I know that many of you are going Duh. That’s the entire premise of working out. It’s a discipline. But for me, a lightbulb went on in my brain.
Ever since I left my job to pursue writing, I have had, like, zero discipline in any area. Not for an extended amount of time, anyway. Not just with working out, but with eating healthy or praying or self-care or anything. Even with writing. I just write when the mood strikes, and not necessarily as a discipline. My days have been either devil-may-care or flat-out lazy. I’ve basically done what I wanted to do, which sounds great (and it is), but without any sort of discipline, I’m just kind of floating around.
If there’s something that I probably should do, but doing it would bring me any form of discomfort, I’ve avoided it.
I’ve been worshipping the god of comfort.
This is comfort with a lowercase c, as opposed to the God of Comfort with an uppercase C. The God of Comfort is Yahweh Shalom, also the God of Peace. He offers true Comfort – comfort of the soul and not just the body and mind. He offers true peace. He offers life. The god of comfort, on the other hand, is a god of gluttony, idleness, and avoidance. Think: Dionysus. He offers death.
I know the god of comfort really well. I laze at his fat feet, and drink the sweet wine that he pours down my throat. “I probably shouldn’t stay. I have things to do,” I say, without much conviction. “Those things can wait. Just relax and enjoy. You’ve earned this,” he drawls. So I continue worshipping at his alter, day after day, in a hazy trance of self-indulgence and sloth.
I’m an enneagram 7, which means that I avoid discomfort in all areas (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and so on). Oh, and the deadly sin of 7s is gluttony. Ha! I tend to chase after things that make me feel comfy cozy and avoid things that rub me the wrong way. I rarely deny myself if I want something, and if I do, it’s usually because I don’t have the means to get it, which makes me frustrated and depressed.
This is hard for me to write about, because it’s something I’m really ashamed of. This is a part of myself that I rarely show the world. It’s somewhat easy for me to talk about my anxiety, because that’s a mental health issue – not a character flaw. But this? This is a character flaw. And one I’ve been actively avoiding to acknowledge for most of my life.
I recognized this mid-conversation with Chase, and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
I’ve acknowledged one face of the god of comfort before, in relation to my anxiety. This god of comfort is also known as the god of safety. I avoided so many things that would bring life to my soul because of anxiety. I clung to the god of safety instead of stepping out in discomfort and courage to something scary, but healthy and good.
See, comfort and safety aren’t bad things in and of themselves. In fact, they’re wonderful things. But they’re not meant to be worshipped. I have to move toward life.
You see, the opposites of comfort and safety aren’t discomfort and recklessness – they are discipline and courage.
It will take time. This way of living is so natural to me. It’s something ingrained in me. It won’t change in one day. But maybe, if I add little disciplines here and there, and if I stick to them – whether I feel motivated to or not – I’ll be able to slowly stand up and walk away from the god of comfort, and into a more full, abundant life. And that is something I can be stubborn about.