My godson is taking music lessons. I remember learning scales and endless repetitions. At first, piano practice seems like drudgery, like self-limitation. But mastering the technique gives you the freedom to play well and create new songs.
I think that's the experience of all of us who have committed to disciplines and freely-chosen limits that go with an intentional identity.
If my religion — or my ethnic tradition, or my profession or vocation or ethics — makes no demands on me, then it's probably not preparing me to do or to become.
Religion, culture, and causes are not brands we can wear without investment of heart and will. If they are, then they're just brightly-labeled complacency.
“Discipline is the channel in which our acts run strong and deep; where there is no direction, the deeds of men run shallow and wander and are wasted.” — Ursula Le Guin, in The Farthest Shore