I have a dishwasher. Quite a nice one, at that. I’m very thankful to have a dishwasher. Growing up I was the dishwasher for our family of seven. No, I wasn’t tortured or anything like that, but it does make me that much more appreciative of the fact that I now have an appliance that accomplishes a good portion of that task for me.
The interesting thing about a dishwasher, though, is the fact that we can sometimes run out of dishes waiting for the dishwasher to be full enough to justify running it. If we hand wash all but our plates, bowls, silverware, and glasses, we can easily run out of those items before we have a full load.
I admit that such an occurrence is rare, but when it happens, there are a couple of logical options. 1) Go ahead and run it anyway or 2) take out what we need and hand wash it instead.
But, I tend to go for a third option – improvise. Use mugs when we run out of glasses. Pull out paper plates or use napkins. Use the extra-large plates that are really far to big for appropriately sized portions. Use a small storage or serving bowl.
When it comes to dishes, improvising is not such a big deal, although it does end up catching up with me. The problem comes when we apply that to other areas of our lives, improvising when we should instead be working. Instead of going to the effort of disciplining our children, we try to find as many ways as possible to keep them busy in hopes that they will have no time to get into trouble. Instead of building relationships so as to passionately witness to people we love, we pour time, energy, and money into evangelism gimmicks that produce rootless conversions. All the while, we busy ourselves so greatly with this temporal life that we have to go to great lengths to make the things of eternity fit in somewhere.
We forego the straightforward, simple solutions in favor of our creative round-about ideas.
The crazy thing about simple solutions is that while they are simple, they are not easy. In fact, they often require more work on the front end than the alternative solutions we conjure up. They require this thing called discipline, and let’s just face it – none of us naturally falls into discipline. We have to force it upon ourselves. So, instead of just washing those dishes we pull out the paper plates. Instead of disciplining our lives, we find a seemingly easier route. If we call it what it is, though, its laziness. And it will come back to bite us.
I know that right now I’m struggling with discipline. It flew out the window with the chaos of Christmas and I have not been diligent to firmly restore it. But, little by little the discipline is returning. And in all honesty, it feels really, really good. It means that my house is cleaner, which I really like. It means getting a solid start to my days. It means that I don’t nibble and snack as much, which gives me more energy (which will be improved even more when I return to diligent exercising). It means that teaching the kids is less of a burden and more of an enjoyment. It means more time for things I enjoy like sewing and writing. Not all of these things are in line yet, but they are getting there. The quick solutions are decreasing and the wise paths are being followed again. With each restored discipline life goes more and more smoothly.
If there is any commitment we make as we head into this new year, may it be the commitment to choose the simple solution. The disciplined one. And may we reap the amazing benefits that come with each new discipline.