UnSelf-Discipline / by Kendall R


Punishment
Originally uploaded by Skip the Filler
There seems to be no distinction between Discipline and Punishment in most Western definitions. And from what I have come to know of myself, ostensibly there wasn’t much distinction for me either growing up.

About a month ago I was mulling over how parents discipline their sons and daughters, how one of the more annoying catch phrases by religious types is “God disciplines those he loves.” Because let’s be honest, most of the world feels like “God’s” idea of discipline sucks, and thus, so does his love. And for me growing up sans father for a good chunk of adolescence, I wondered aloud in this mulling moment driving down the street, “Then who disciplined me?”

Life responded, “You did… and you often punished yourself more than disciplined.”

I had to admit I really didn’t know the difference between the two. I came home and looked it up in various dictionaries and saw they didn’t know the difference either. (Stupid dictionaries) All Discipline felt like Punishment to me, and so when I encounter the idea of a Father loving those whom he disciplines, I don’t see it as love at all. (I’m guessing I am not the only one at this party.) So, I said responded, “Got it. Let me know when I am punishing myself and calling it discipline, if you will.”

And he does.

Mistakes I make, balls I drop, relationships that are crumpled messes in a pile, words I never should have said – I dissect and revisit far too many times not because I am trying to learn from them (like I told myself all these years) but because I let their weight sink me as self-punishment, never letting me off the hook that you, God and everybody else would in a heartbeat. THIS is what he was talking about. Because as Matthew Ryan sings in his new song ”The World Is…”: ”Some would say it’s maudlin and some will say bullshit, but there’s no living without living, and the living shows you this: That the world is held together with lies and promises and broken hearts and brand new days for you to start All over again.”

In these moments when I have the choice to carry on as always or change direction and let some One outside of myself do the disciplining, there is such a draw of freedom in the latter that it pulls me out like an ocean current. “Ultimately, I do not master truth but truth masters me... We may bring truth to light by finding it and speaking its name—but truth also brings us to life by finding and naming us,” wrote Parker Palmer I thought I was being truthful in my self-punishment, but it was truth that called my bluff, and it is Truth that named me otherwise. And maybe that’s what is meant by discipline