It’s sure hard to change habits, isn’t it?!?! Habits are so engrained in us that sometimes probably often times we think we’re never ever going to change — our flesh is selfish!! We often think maybe we just need more will power or more self control. Have you thought this, too? I sure have… I’ve thought that after all this time, I sure ought to be____________, or I sure ought to have done__________; but I’m not and/or I haven’t. I know I have desire, I have ability, I have resources… and then I think on “will-power” – you know, the depletable resource we try to keep going, trying to refuel until we realize we’ve run out of fuel? This may happen over an hour, a day or a week or longer. The thing that’s so hard is that shear “will-power” is short lived – it’s so easily depleted. It often seems that will-power is vapor… but for sure, it’s depletable.
Synonyms: exhaust – drain – empty – use up – evacuate
I’ve come to see that it’s actually a very good thing that “will-power” is short lived and so easily depleted. I sure see that it’s why I so often see my need of the Lord so significantly — if I could do all this stuff on my own, I would think I didn’t need Him. And because I’ve seen I cannot do all this stuff on my own: I *do* need Him. I shake my head wondering why I continually live like I don’t need Him… Like, I’ve got this, Lord, I’ll call on You if things get tough. Fact is, I don’t always call on Him *when* things get tough. And it’s never, ever a question of whether things will get tough or not — for, sure things will get tough.
So… I’m reading different things about repatterning behaviour – or, as one author says, overwriting a bad habit with new behaviour. The premise is that bad habits cannot be eliminated entirely but that they can be overwritten. By overwriting a bad habit, that bad habit is turned into a good pattern or a good routine. As an example, when a bad habit has overtaken a life, it isn’t generally something that will be easily changed/eliminated — so if there’s a desire to change that bad habit, it’s necessary to line up solutions or new patterns along with some sort of reward for sticking to the new pattern.
I’ve found it so hard to lose weight… or, actually, to lose weight and keep it off. It’s not a matter of will power when I’ve been able to accomplish the goal of weightloss, it’s a matter of fueling that depletable resource or setting up solutions for pitfalls. Continuing on with the consideration of weightloss as an example, I remove the trappings or pitfalls and I fill those spaces with healthful alternatives and activities. For example, I might have cut vegetables on the counter for snacking, cold fresh fruit in the fridge, cold lemon water in a pitcher. I have found that if I let myself compromise, the next compromises will come sooner and heavier than each before. A little phrase I’ve brought to mind over and over: Make no provision for the flesh… make right provision for the flesh. I take away or don’t go where my fleshly desires tend to wander and because I know where my flesh tends to wander, I make provision for such times.
This principle works on so many levels. From ways I’m spending my time, to computer use, to thought patterns, to responses, to scheduling… I need to continue repatterning… repatterning… repatterning. I need to do this over and over and over again until I overwrite bad habits (or when beginning new ones). Amazingly this repetition sincerely does become habit — part of the fabric of my life. As an aside, to be very candid, I feel so weary when I’ve recognized that I’ve wandered from the path that had become such a good pattern. When I fall… and fall back into that bad habit, thought pattern, etc., etc., I’ve learned that I must continually resort to the Lord, to the patterns He set before me. I recognize sooner, repent sooner and more quickly request and renew my strength in Him.
The most important thing for me to remember is that I must patiently hope in the Lord and not be discouraged when I don’t see overnight change in my life. I must see that day by day, in faith, He is changing me.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.