My year, spiritually, has been characterized by two different things: struggle and discipline.

To get into spiritual shape, wrestle with God?

My year, spiritually, has been characterized by two different things: struggle and discipline.

My struggles have not been the stuff of epic, certainly. Only epic for me, personally. I was having a long disagreement with God over what I wanted, which seemed to be at odds with what He wanted. An age-old story, but I had never experienced the conflict on quite this level before.

In February, I began a graduate program focusing on spiritual formation. So while I was learning about methods to develop spiritually, I was engaged in this personal, epic struggle. I wrestled with God. But I also practiced spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading. My struggle informed my class work in unexpected ways, and perhaps my experience on the whole has been richer as a result.

In fall of 2012, there seemed to be multiple hardships — not just with God and in my deep interior life, but at work, and while I was striving to juggle school and work at the same time. For a while, prayer became difficult, if not impossible. But I continued with the Bible reading. It was my lifeline. Though I sometimes wondered if it made a difference, I continued to do it. And I believe it was my consistency and my discipline that eventually helped me emerge from the struggle, not so much victorious as at peace. Through the struggle, and through the discipline, I made peace with God. I was able to understand my life was no longer defined by disagreement with Him.

This doesn't mean I don't still wonder why God and I do not see eye to eye on this issue. But it does mean I make an effort now to tell myself God is in charge, not me, and there is a good reason for it. This, too, takes discipline, just as the consisten Bible reading took discipline. Struggle, and discipline, have made me stronger.

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