Read on to find out just what self control will do for you.
Self-control is not supposed to keep us from having fun–it is supposed to make room for the lasting things that bring joy and satisfaction.
Here’s an illustration:
Suppose a mother has a preschool child who receives a box full of craft supplies as a birthday gift. Included in the box are packages of crayons, markers, glue, glitter (I know, I know), pom-poms, googly eyes, chenille stems, etc.
Now of course this child wants to enjoy this amazing stuff immediately. She wants to open each and every package and dump it out on the table, where it will end up on the floor and all through the house. Although this would give the child immediate gratification, the results would be frustration, mess, and the assurance that there wouldn’t be any supplies left for further creative sessions.
This mother is wise, however. She gently (but firmly) gives the child some structure and helps her to decide on a specific project. Then she only takes out the exact amount out of each package she will need at that moment, storing the remainder out of reach. The end result is a happy child hanging her creation on the refrigerator for everyone’s admiration, with the potential for many more pleasant experiences to come.
This wise mother is a picture of self-control.
We all have impulsive desires that demand our obedience; it’s 10:00 pm and we have a sugar craving, or we see something on sale that we really don’t have the money for, or we know a juicy bit of dirt on someone and we just have to find an audience.
Sometimes it is that irresistible urge to tell someone exactly how much we dislike them in a heated moment, or to react in kind when someone says something insensitive or rude.
Case in point:
Someone remarked critically on my wardrobe today, and the remark landed on a sensitive spot. You see, the summer months are my least favorite for clothing choices. In the winter I can hide my imperfections under multiple layers with style and flourish, but when it gets warmer it’s not so easy. Although in my mind I may entertain visions of a perfect figure and Pinterest apparel, my reality is a grandma figure and a closet that looks like the bargain rack at the Goodwill. I just wasn’t prepared for someone else to notice my dilemma and state it so plainly. It smarted and I recoiled, ready to strike back with something awful in return.
But I didn’t.
“Help me, Father, not to do anything that would displease You. Help me to feel thankful and joyful,” I prayed.
Then I practiced three things:
- Tackling the problem
My emotions were not on board at first. I cried a few quiet “woe is me” tears as I ironed a shirt (a glimpse of my silly tears in the mirror made me laugh at myself). I immediately began to thank my wonderful Heavenly Father for all the blessings I could think of. It didn’t feel great at first, but it kept me from spiraling downward so that my actions were out of my control.
Then I busied myself by tackling the problem. Father allowed that I had an uninterrupted hour or so to go through all my things and evaluate their rank and purpose in my daily attire.
I cut out the items that were ugly (but I was keeping because…), frumpy, had a stain, or were being saved for “someday.” As usual, the mediocre had been keeping me from realizing how many truly pretty, flattering items I owned.
I laid what I had left on our bed so I could see it all at once. Then I methodically tried on each piece of clothing and mixed or matched them all in different configurations.
To my pleasant surprise I discovered I have a number, quite a number in fact, of daily options which are both practical and flattering. I simply had not taken the time to make a proper inventory so I could put matches together.
All of the negative emotions I originally felt were long gone. In their place was a deep peace and a joy that showed via a huge smile and cheerful attitude.
I shudder to think what would have happened if I had given into my hurt and anger.
Instead of joy and peace, I would still be looking frumpy and feeling poor, and my home would be filled with anger and strife.
One of my favorite Bible teachers, Graham Cooke, has some solid teaching on negative circumstances that really helped. He says that when we exercise self control we invite at least one other of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The Bible further tells us we are all in possession of this important gift:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified
You can learn even more about self control by watching the video below:
I’ve recently been discussing how we can build our homes by becoming better wives and mothers. I have called the series:
One ingredient that pulls all of this teaching together is self-control, and without out it our homes will become a total shipwreck.