“But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices.”
2 Kings 17:40
The frustrated yell comes from the basement.
I know exactly what it means.
I did it again.
My canning shelves are in the basement. For years, there has been a string pull for the light to illuminate said shelves. Recently, Hubby rewired said light. Now it goes on with the main switch.
You’d think our arms could figure that out.
I mean, we are both relatively intelligent. Well educated. Adults who pay taxes and raised children. We are upright and ambulatory. There’s really no reason for our disability in the light-pull department.
But there it is.
I can go downstairs to retrieve a product while repeating aloud that I’m not going to pull the string that is no longer there – and up goes my arm at the last minute. It’s a response that is so deeply ingrained it has become completely automatic.
And Hubby’s arm has a similar determination.
So at all hours, one or the other of us is making involuntary noises as our arms betray us and reach for that dang invisible string.
One – be very careful what habits you are building, because once they are there, they are hard to get rid of.
This is the negative aspect of habitual behaviour – repeated practice of worry, using food or alcohol to feed stress, or avoidance of hard things sets us up for failure down the road. Each round of additional repetition reinforces the habit until it becomes ingrained. Eventually, our automatic response will further sink us into that rutted track, making it incredibly difficult to respond in new ways.
We may be willing to change. We may have the tools we need to change.
Our hands are just tied by the strength of habit.
In this case, almost literally. (Picture our arms flailing around our heads as we reach for what isn’t even there.)
Two – good habits once established can become ingrained and automatic with consistent practice.
This is the positive aspect of habitual behaviour – repeated practice of Bible reading, meditation, becoming aware of and training our thought processes sets us up for success down the road. If our automated response to stress is to seek God’s wisdom and pray, if we train our eyes to see the good in those around us, if we practice keeping our mouth shut when we are tempted to spout foolishness – we can build habits which will revolutionize our relationships.
Back to our lighting situation.
We are entering the ‘change the habit’ phase, and right now it seems daunting. It really does. But we know that in time with repeated exposure and practice, our arms will stop flailing about. I’m going to try to track how long it takes us as an experiment in psychology.
Right now, it sure is giving us a good laugh. It’s just so ridiculous. We are resorting to bizarre measures to counter that automated response – and it is having no effect.
One thing I have learned in the midst of retraining old habits is that I need to show myself grace in the process. It takes time.
And a good dose of prayer never hurts.
Are you entering your own retraining phase? Are you working hard to establish a good habit?
Hang in there.
All that hard work will pay off.
Be mindful of your habit forming actions with me?
Father, we can really get stuck when we repeat poor choices until they become ingrained. Give us the power and strength and wisdom we need to build good habits with intent. Bless our efforts with success. Amen.