As children, many of us are taught some similar, basic abilities. We learn to walk, talk, read, engage in conversation and many other skills that are of utmost importance as we grow into adulthood. One of the many skills many of us learn is the ability to tie our shoes. Some of us learn the bunny ears, others learn a variety of other techniques. The end goal, of course, is to learn to secure our shoes to our feet in order to provide comfort and support when we are walking and running.

As I was growing up, I developed a love for walking in bare feet. I would walk anywhere on anything; gravel driveways, hot cement, hot sandy beaches, cold wet grass. As winter would come to and end and spring arrived, I couldn’t wait for the snow to melt solely so I could take off the extra weight of my shoes and enjoy the weightless feeling of my feet touching the ground. It may seem overstated, but some days I truly felt more alive when I could feel earth between my toes.

I don’t like the feeling of being constricted. Maybe that is part of the reason why I didn’t like shoes. In shoes, I felt like something was hindering my life experience. As I got older, I started wearing my shoes with my laces tied loosely, partly so I could remove them quickly, but primarily because I didn’t like the feeling of having them tied tight. I felt like my feet couldn’t breathe.

When I started working out just over a year ago, I started out with my $30 WalMart shoes, tied loosely. I didn’t give much thought to my feet as I started working on the cardio equipment. As I started getting more into working out, my trainer suggested that running would be a great activity to get into, as it provides a great cardio workout and helps with weight loss. A piece of advice he gave me was to purchase a good pair of shoes. He said I could go to a running store, and the employees there could analyse how I walk. Then they could advise me on the perfect shoe for my feet.

I went to the shoe store and ended up getting a great deal on a pair of really nice New Balance shoes. I’d never spent so much on a pair of shoes in my life, yet for some reason I had this sense that I wouldn’t be disappointed. They felt and looked great. As I got back to the gym the next day and hit the treadmill I instantly realized this was the best decision I’d made regarding my training. Running almost instantly became a pleasure1. I worked my way up to running almost 5 km by the end of the summer. It was a fantastic feeling.

The only downside to running was that I would feel pain in my legs about 20 minutes into a run. My shins and hamstrings would tense up, and it took everything I had to push through. Something didn’t seem right with this, however I simply chalked it up to me being a rookie runner. I figured that after a period of time, the pain would eventually go away with more and more training.

As winter approached last year, I began to let my running slip. I didn’t get back into it until a month ago, and not until this week had I attempted any real distance. Yesterday I ran and felt the same pain in my legs as I had before, and after 30 minutes had to stop. I only ran 3.5 km.

Today, as I was getting ready to run, I changed something. Ever since I had started running, I hadn’t been tightening my shoes very much. The way I saw it, the more air that was passing from the opening to my toes, the better my feet would feel. However, today I tried tightening my shoes. I laced them up just like I would a hockey skate, starting at the toe and making sure the shoe felt snug up and down the laces.

I ran 5 km today.

My legs felt incredible.

It was an amazing feeling. It was like my legs were saying “Thank you! Thank you for finally supporting us!” I realized as I was running that all the times before, my legs had been struggling with keeping my shoes on my feet (not that they were ready to fall off, but simply that they were loose and flopping left and right). This time, my shoes were snug on my feet, and the entire time my legs felt incredible. If it weren’t for my stomach starting to hurt, I probably could have run another kilometre or so.

It reminded me of my struggle with discipline. In the fall, I had begun reading my bible every day, reading through Proverbs every day and journalling. It was part of my morning routine. However, after 2 months I stopped. I didn’t feel like it was doing anything. I realize now, however, that it was doing a lot. It was supporting me, providing a snug feeling for my heart to make it through the day. I felt encouraged every morning, to love my girlfriend more, to work hard at work, to be kind to my parents.

Discipline acted like my shoes did while I was running. Even though I hate shoes, I realize if I were to try to run without them, my legs would be destroyed after just a couple kilometres. If I try to live my life without discipline, I’m letting time and my situations control my emotions, my state of mind, and my faith.

I know not everyone reading this will find support in reading the Bible. I just want to encourage you to find something you can be disciplined in doing, and let that discipline support your heart and soul. Maybe it’s a prayer, maybe it’s attending a religious service on a regular basis, maybe it’s journalling your thoughts and feelings and experiences, maybe it’s simply sitting in silence for a few minutes every day. Find something that is outside of your comfort zone that is good for you, and stick to doing it for 2 weeks. After two weeks, if your soul doesn’t feel supported, find something else that you feel supports you.

Discipline has a way of making me take greater care of the other things in my life. I love better, listen better, encourage better. I encourage you to utilize discipline to make you better, so that you can be better to the ones you love.