Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Habits


I remember the first time I tried a cigarette. My parents made me take a few drags.. I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. It was (I think) their attempt to teach me not to smoke. Of course, a few years later, I was sneaking cigarettes from their packs. And then sneaking packs from their cartons. It had started as just something to do... it seemed like a good idea. And the few drags they'd made me take before didn't kill me. And it wasn't like I was addicted - I smoked 'em when I had 'em... and didn't really care when I didn't have them. I wasn't pressured into smoking... in fact, my high school friends who did smoke were very careful to not push the idea onto me, and accepted me no matter what. And, when I started college at 16 years old - my friends there disliked the idea of smoking. I had to sneak behind their backs for a cigarette because I didn't want to be unaccepted in their little group. But it was still a cigarette here and there - maybe adding up to 1 a day, though generally not.

When I finally left home, I ended up at a party. No one was drinking - alcohol wasn't allowed in that house. But, most of the people were smoking. And I asked for one. Then gave someone some money to go buy me a pack. And from that moment on, I was definitely a smoker. It was a habit that would prove to be incredibly difficult to break.

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Everyone has these habits - some of us having more than one. And when they start, they don't start as a bad habit. One cigarette is not a bad habit. One drink is not a bad habit. Sex with one person is not a habit. But that one cigarette can turn into two packs a day. That one drink can become getting drunk on a nightly basis. Sex with that one person can turn into using sex with random people as a way to escape life.

And it isn't just the "bad" things that become bad habits.

One example that comes to mind...

Do you have someone in your life who you can turn to that just seems to make everything seem better? Maybe it's a friend, or a spouse, or a mentor? Maybe it's just that person who gets your coffee every morning at the local coffee shop. Whoever it is, you know that by talking to this person, your day is instantly brighter. This is a good thing, right?

Well, what if you become addicted to this to the point of it interfering in your life? To the point of it ruining your friendship with the person? To the point of you having that desperate need to seek this person out any time life gets a little rough?

Ok, maybe this seems a little drastic... but, this interpersonal dependency can be real and can become a bad habit - an addiction of sorts.

Something that started out as good is suddenly an unhealthy habit.

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I've wrote about addictions in the past. About how we must be willing to lay these habits at God's feet and ask for his help to overcome them. We must accept that we cannot do it on our own.

Of course, I do have one small problem with this - what if interpersonal dependency is your addiction? Getting help from someone... well.... it starts the loop again.

But, perhaps the answer can be found if you look at it another way as well. Not only must we lay our problems before the Lord, repenting the sins we've committed and pleading for the courage, strength, and ability to let go of these unhealthy actions... we must also consider what our actions are doing in regards to our relationship with God.

What do I mean by this?

You can read the Bible every day. But if after a chapter, you're starting to think "damn, I need a cigarette".... or, if instead of meditating on the words you've read, you go pour yourself another glass of wine... are you truly achieving a deeper relationship with God?

You can pray every day. But if after that prayer for strength to get through your emotional strife, you're stripping your clothes off for someone you just met... or, if instead of allowing the peace you just prayed for to wash over you, you're calling that one person begging for some assurance that someone is there for you... are you truly achieving a closer relationship to God?

It isn't just about ridding ourselves of those bad habits. It's about allowing ourselves the good habit of learning of God's mercy and trusting in God's grace and living God's will.

Now... if only someone could teach me how to do that, life would be much easier :)

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