The Struggle to Keep the Good Habits

Habits are strange things, aren’t they?

It seems so easy to fall into bad habits! And so difficult to stop them!

But it seems so difficult to keep the good ones going! And so easy to stop them!

I have previously posted some thoughts about conquering bad habits and addictions. I won’t dwell on that here. (You can read them here, if you like.)

So let’s think about the good ones for a few moments.

As a Christian, there are certain good habits that I would like to establish and maintain. There are good habits that will help me take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit that is my body. There are good habits that will help me stay mentally sharp. There are good habits that will help me keep growing spiritually.

As far as my body is concerned, I need to take care not to overeat. For most of us, maintaining a habit of eating healthy food and healthy portions requires some discipline. It’s easy to “fall off the wagon” and become careless. If we don’t quickly reinstitute the good habits, gradually, but inexorably, the pounds will begin to accumulate one-by-one until we are dismayed at what we have allowed to happen. Or, we may notice our energy levels are not what they used to be. We may feel more tired than we really should. We may be more susceptible to all those little bugs that come our way… our immune systems compromised because we let the good habits slip.

Physical exercise is another good habit. Probably all of us reading this have started exercise plans and kept them going for weeks, or even months, only to have them disrupted by weather, sickness, vacations, etc. And once they are disrupted, it seems so difficult to get them going again!

Reading is a great habit that many of us try to maintain in order to keep our brains in working order. But that wonderful habit is easily lost to the ugly habit of sitting, brain-dead, in front of one inane television program after another.

Daily devotions, Bible reading and study, Scripture memory, and developing the ability to understand and converse about some of the key theological and cultural issues of our time are wonderful habits. Here again, most of us have times when our Bible study becomes an intense and wonderful habit… for a time. Then, somehow, the time we had allotted for it is mysteriously smuggled away from us.

In early November of last year (2008) I decided it would be a good discipline to try to write to this weblog more regularly. It would be a good habit that would give my brain much-needed exercise, whether or not anyone chose to read the posts.

A couple of months ago, as we neared the end of another school year, I found my self putting it off…  just for a little while.  And… You guessed it… Another good habit–down the tube!

What can we do? How do we keep the good ones going? Or at least, start them back?

Well, it helps if someone out there is holding us accountable. Someone to ask, “Are you still exercising?” “Where are you in your Bible reading?” “Have you memorized any verses lately?” “Read any good books lately?”

Most people won’t do that for us without some serious goading. They are too polite to risk making us feel bad in case we have fallen off the wagon.

So what can we do? We need to beg some of our closest friends and family members to hold us accountable! Of course, when they do, we may shrug it off. But we are certainly more likely to get back in the saddle if someone is dutifully encouraging us to do it!

So, two months after the last one, here’s a new post. Will I be able to restart the good habit? That remains to be seen!

But if you happened to have read this far, I hereby give you permission to goad me a bit. I need it!

Let’s do our best to stay in the battle!