Discipline, Dedication, Discovery

The symptoms of Cushing’s disease are increasing and so is my anxiety. This situation has become a distraction to me and all my good intentions of working out each day have gone to the wayside. I have no discipline now – I am just living each day as a day closer to my doctor’s appointment. Nothing is more important to me at this time. How sad is that?

God has come to my rescue once more. He has put another book in my hands that is inspiring me to become a ‘better-version-of-myself’. This is the encouragement I need and way out of the tunnel vision of self-pity.

This book is “Re-Discover Catholicism, A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose” by Matthew Kelly. I bought this book in the spring of last year. When I tried to read it, the font type was too small that I just put it in my bookcase to read ‘later’. Then a fellow parishioner purchased enough books for the entire parish to read. During the Christmas Masses, our pastor distributed the book to everyone in the pews. I took that as I sign that I had better find a way to read it. I purchased some extra strength reading glasses and after the first chapter, I was hooked. This book is now available for eReaders making it easier to adjust the font size.

Mr. Kelly is a brilliant author and since his teenage years has spent most of his time studying and speaking about the Catholic faith while attending business school. Besides his profession as a management consultant and an internationally acclaimed speaker, he has written at least 10 books – most of which have the recurrant theme of how to become ‘the-best-version-of-yourself’. What a unique idea!

There is a lot of great information in this book; but what really touched me was the chapter on discipline called ‘In Search of Excellence’. One example he used was himself as a writer. He explained that writing a book is just plain hard work. (So is writing a blog!) He said that a writer must write every single day, no matter how they feel or what is going on in his/her life. His point is: to achieve excellence, one must practice every single day.

Another example he gave was Michael Jordan. When Michael was in high school, he was not an outstanding basketball player. Can you imagine this? The coach said his problem was that his foul shots were off. So he practiced until he made 500 foul shots a day. He would not go home and to bed until he made his 500th foul shot. What deligence!

Other examples include the saints. They had a focus – a singleness of purpose as they tried to align their goals with the will of God. We have modern saints that show us that it takes discipline and dedication to reach a goal – including Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II. In reading the stories of their lives, we will find how they and the other saints struggled and overcame the obstacles to holiness and excellence.

With all this wonderful information at my fingertips, I had to consider: what is my goal, my purpose? What good habits do I have or need to cultivate? If I want to become ‘the-best-version-of-myself’, how can I develop the discipline I need to achieve it?

What is my mission? How do I find out if I am doing God’s Will? According to Mr. Kelly, it all starts with a prayer. The only way to know what God’s mission for me is to ask Him. I may not receive an immediate answer but by praying consistantly, my prayer may slowly become a conversation and then a dialogue with God. I may not even get the full picture; just tiny hints and nudges to get me started. Eventually I am sure I will reach a certainty of purpose.

What I have learned is that whether I am sick or healthy, God will find a way to use my talents for His Glory. I cannot put off my quest for spiritual excellence because I just don’t feel good. Every day is a new opportunity for me to become a better prayer warrior, a better listener to God’s inspirations and a better sister to my family in Christ. This happens because when I am sick, He has my undivided attention – that is if I am not focused in feeling sorry for myself.

So no matter how I feel, I will lift my face to the Lord and ask Him to direct my life – and I will schedule it as one of the first things I do each day. I believe it will also change how I view and respond to the stresses of each day. If I want to be the best I can be; I have to practice – every day. While my focus is on God, it is not on my trials. I want to embrace this new life and become the ‘best-version-of-Ginger’.