The Study of Habits

habits2

I’m not sure if you guys have noticed, but I’m day 18 into the journey! 😉 If you don’t know what I’m talking about  click here for my first post where I explain  my quest to  recover from disordered eating and thinking through surrender to God.  After all, He made me and knows how to handle my health and body  better than I do—for  sure.  The past 18 days have definitely been interesting to say the least.  I am experiencing firsthand that truly “old habits are hard to  break.”

Ugh, old habits

The habit of obsessively controlling every morsel that enters my mouth. The habit of angrily resenting the body that God has given me. The habit of eating out of emotion or fear. The habit of swinging from one extreme to another.  The habit of living in the way I think is right rather than the way God knows is right. The habit of dealing with stress inappropriately. Yeah, those habits… (cough)

Of course God is stronger than all of the bad habits in the world. And naturally all the bad habits in the world include include all of the bad habits within me. I know that God has supernatural power to break them all completely. Yet honestly, it hasn’t always been my habit to ask Him and immediately seek His help in every difficult situation.

Still, I want trust in God and surrender to His way to be my habits. I really, really do!

The exciting news is that God just longs to help me! He wants to give me freedom from my bad habits and the power to form His good habits.

On this blog I will always strive for honesty and appropriate transparency in all things. In light of this, although I do desire to form new, godly habits intellectually, many times I also want to return to those old habits that are so seemingly comfortably and perfectly natural.  I am sure you’ve already experienced the validity of the fact that forming new habits is not easy. (Uh-uh!) Its easier to allow yourself to sink into discouragement and give up because replacing old habits can get so intensely hard.

Then it all clicked for me in violin lessons the other day when my teacher said something intensely insightful. (Yes, surprise: I play the violin, its one of my #1 fav things to do!)

So let me share. 🙂 Recently I’ve been working super hard on a particular technical concept that is essential to beautiful violin playing. My teacher noticed that whenever I focused intently on this particular  concept, I could execute it flawlessly and accurately.  Yet as soon as I wasn’t  thinking about it anymore, instead turning my attention to some other aspect of violin playing, I slipped back into my old wrong technical habit.

Being the astute and talented teacher that he is, he brought the resurfacing of my incorrect habit to my attention.

Then he said something that blew my mind.

The words were something to this effect: “Jade, when you are trying to build a new habit, it takes work. You must focus and be intentional about consistently implementing the correct habit. You must pour all your energy into making it work. By doing this, you are focusing on creating a new habit.

But once that habit is created by the intense work you have done in the early stages, it will serve you faithfully for a long time to come. You will no longer have to think about implementing the correct technique in this area as you must today. It will just become natural.”

All at once I felt things snap together in my head. They literally clicked. I was now completely beyond the world of violin discipline and rapidly translating the concept into real life. My life today.

So here’s the translation.

Yes its gonna be hard at first. It has been hard. I’ll have to invest all of my mental strength and energy in intentionally creating new good habits such as doing what God says no matter how I feel, trusting that He knows what’s best for me, and resting securely in His love.

I cannot lose my focus for a moment because, if I do, I will immediately fall back into my old bad habits. I must be consistent and continue to practice and cultivate the new even though the old feels more comfortable. And in due season, after the hard part of consciously cultivating the good, the new habits will become fully formed and completely crystallized.  This is too good to be true!!!

I literally cannot wait for the day when allowing God to lead me 100% will become a habit, when celebrating the body that God has given me will become a habit, when choosing to focus on Christ and others instead of myself will become a habit—a natural part of my everyday life.

But all this depends on how I handle today. This very moment. Will I choose to nurture healthy, beneficial habits now? Will I intentionally focus on Jesus and practice following His leading now?

Then, just like the melodious sounds of the violin after the challenging technical work beforehand, I will be able to make the beautiful music of God’s deliverance for all to hear!!!!

-J

Do you have bad habits that you’ve tried to give up before but failed? If so, do you think it might be because you have not put all your effort and concentration in cultivating the new, good habits? Are you willing to go through the hard part first? Have you allowed Jesus to help you in your personal habit formation process? What are your observations on habits? 

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