Pursuing self-control doesn’t sound like fun, unless you keep in mind that it can help you experience more wonder. The more self-control you develop, the better you can focus, which is a key skill for noticing the wonder around you. This last “fruit of the Spirit” mentioned in the Bible (Galatians 5:22-23) can lead you to awe just as much as the others can.
My 6th birthday party was an all-chocolate event: chocolate cake with chocolate icing, brownies, chocolate candy, and chocolate milk. My friends and I gorged ourselves on chocolate that afternoon in my family’s basement. It was so much fun – until suddenly it wasn’t anymore. Each bite and gulp of chocolate felt exhilarating for a while. This was my 6-year-old self’s dream come true: chocolate without limits, for everyone! I kept eating and drinking long after I felt full because I was having fun. But after I finally rose from my seat to start the “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game, a queasy feeling came over me. Throughout the game, I managed to ignore that feeling, and even ate and drank some more chocolate after the game was over. The chocolate was still available, so I thought, “Why not”? I found out why not soon afterward, when I threw up on a pile of beautifully wrapped presents while everyone was watching me open them. I had to leave my own party early, missing out on wonder I could have enjoyed if I’d controlled myself better. After the party, every single one of my friends’ mothers called my mother to say their daughters had thrown up soon after returning home. My mom apologized and informed them that it wasn’t a contagious illness, but a lack of self-control, that caused that to happen.
What was one especially memorable time when you learned the wisdom of self-control? How were you able to enjoy the wonder around you more, as a result?
Research shows that developing self-control helps us focus well, which leads us to discover more wonder in our lives. Experiencing wonder can strengthen our self-control as well, research reveals. I explain how in my book Wake Up to Wonder.
Here’s how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to become more self-controlled, and discover wonder in the process:
Confess ways in which your appetites have been spinning out of control. Be honest and trust God to deal lovingly and effectively with the issues. Surrender all of your appetites to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. Pray for the help you need to make wise choices and overcome temptation in every area that tempts you: money, food, sex, etc.
Seek to discover God’s desires for your life and ask God to make those desires your own. Let go of any desires that don’t align with God’s desires for you. Make God your top priority in life. If anything or anyone is a higher priority to you than God, rearrange your priorities to give God his rightful place and ask him to renew you through his Spirit.
Ask God to show you how he would like you to be a better steward of your resources – time, money, energy, attention, etc. Then devise a plan for doing so, and ask a friend to hold you accountable to that plan and encourage you as you implement it. Look for wonder along the way!
How will you pursue self-control today?