A Not So Spontaneous post on Being Spontaneous


Recently a friend of mine posted a quote from Oswald Chambers on her facebook status and asked people to comment: “Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.”

Now, I liked the idea, but perhaps because spontaneity is easy for me and discipline not so much. If I could just consider spontaneity discipline, then I’ve solved both. Kind of like politicians who can lower the unemployment rate simply by redefining what it means to be unemployed. (magic!)

But on my friend’s facebook wall, other people disagreed, stating that disciplined spontaneity was a contradiction. And, yes, it’s that seeming contradiction that caught my attention in the first place. But I think the mistake was in only seeing a discipline as a purposeful habit. Really, is discipline can and should be much more.

So perhaps, dare I suggest, spontaneity is the only thing that can be a discipline, as its simply the act of doing things we wouldn’t otherwise do. All else becomes habit. And with all due respect to Stephen Covey, habits do not a Christian make. God can only work in our lives as much as we give God room.

The discipline to strike up a conversation with that person who you wouldn’t otherwise notice.
The discipline to see beauty in something you would otherwise overlook.
The discipline to learn what you didn’t plan on learning.

Like a lot of good thoughts, Tomas Merton said it best:

Every moment and every event in every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.  For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.”

So here’s to spontaneity. Get out there and do it!


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“It is true that we make many mistakes. But the biggest of them all is to be surprised at them, as if we had some hope of never making any.”- Thomas Merton