Day 18 -Relating in Self-Control
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls, so is a person who has no self-control over his spirit.”
Proverbs 25: 28
Meditate or Reflect
When we think about self-control, at first it sounds like a personal problem – only affecting the “self.” But in reality, a lack of self-control affects relationship. I’ll share a confession. I recently downloaded a numbers game on my phone, and in one evening I lost myself in the game for several hours. It shortened my quality of prayer time with God, and it diminished my sleep, which affected my mood, which affected how I was relating to others. I lacked self-control for a few hours, but it affected other areas of relationship in my life. Addictions are everywhere, and some are more obvious than others. The obvious addictions: alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, sex, pornography; and the less obvious addictions: shopping, sugar, work, technology, binge-watching shows, collecting specific things (antiques, cards, figurines), exercise, and emotional outbursts (outside of a mental health diagnosis). At the heart of most of these addictions is a desire to numb something. The cure sounds simple, but takes a lot of effort: self-control, better yet, the “self” coming under God’s control. Anyone who has been in relationship with an addict knows, it doesn’t just affect the addict, it also affects relationships. But God in His patient waiting, invites us to relinquish our addictions, our idols, and turn to Him. Take a breath and think of relationships where you have experienced self-control, or even a lack of self-control. Reflect on the mighty control of God toward humanity. How frustrating we sinful people must be, how deserving we are of His wrath. But, for His great love and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, God’s wrath is under His control as He patiently waits for every sinner to come home to Him.
Thoughts and Behaviors
Turn to your thoughts and behaviors. Do you often exercise self-control over your thoughts and behaviors? Consider the verse from Proverbs 25: 28 and reflect on these questions with the Spirit’s help:
Flourishing and Protecting
In 12-Step recovery programs, the newcomer commits to making the courageous first steps: admitting that life has become unmanageable, and that only God can restore our understanding, and then making the decision to turn our lives over to God’s care. These are the necessary first steps for anyone who struggles with self-control, whether it’s alcohol or technology, let’s start today with committed action for better self-control with the Spirit’s help. However, if you find yourself or someone you care about in relationship with someone who struggles with self-control, it is imperative to get help: invite someone else into the conversation – a counselor, an impartial friend, a trusted advisor. We can hope and pray for change, but if change isn’t happening, then it may be time to create new boundaries. Have a dialogue, seek outside help or advice, and hope and pray for change. Also, search your heart, mind, and soul to see where you may be lacking self-control in your relationships, and make any changes that could improve your part in a relationship.
Relating with self-control in our relationships is a way of keeping the “city” safe. If the city is our community of relationships, then each of us is a little house. How are you keeping your side of the street clean? It begins with the awareness that we always need to keep our house clean, and then committing to doing the work with God’s help. Take a breath and reflect on God’s great and perfect capacity for control – He is creator God, and He is in control – meet Him in this moment and give Him whatever you are holding onto. Untighten your grasp, and give God control. Also, express your gratitude for the relationships where you experience a mutual care and self-discipline, and pray for those who struggle with self-control.
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Amy Fleming, MA, LPC