There has been many bad habits I have developed throughout my life. It started with a simple beginning. That first time I had chosen to smoke a cigarette, drink a cup of coffee, snort a line of meth, or say that first curse word. All of these things transformed into a lengthy battle within that I would lose, many times over. All of these things have had a certain degree of control. Some more harmful than others, but very influential. There is one habit that I carry with me that has been very hard to break. Drugs were hard to give up, and smoking was probably one of the worst, but this habit by far has been the most challenging. The habit of dwelling.
I’ve also developed a habit of exercising self-awareness. Within that habit, I’ve noticed that dwelling has led me to a great number of troubling times. I have had the depression and anxiety to deal with ever since I was a young boy. Perhaps this is where my habit started? I would spend many days, hours, months; prolonged times within my self-torment. I would dwell on the fight I had witnessed the night before between my parents. The insults from the neighborhood kids. The unhappiness that I was feeling inside. I would dwell on the past. It started then, and has carried over into the current days. The difference is, I have developed the habit of noticing when I am doing it, and quickly divert. Unfortunately, that diversion is sometimes short-lived, and I believe it is because I have repeated this habit for so many years. I know that changing patterns is the only way to unlearn my habitual tendencies, so I progressively walk a different path until the old is distant. Maybe I subconsciously convince myself that it is too hard to give up dwelling, or that I must keep dwelling? It really is a tough one for me.
The negatives are easy to find in a life. In yours. In mine. How imperfect this life really is. We have health problems, financial problems, family problems, problems within our society. Sin is always running its nasty course within the lives that we live. We are on the up, and then we crash. We build endurance, and just when we think we have won the race, we fall flat on our faces. The inevitable is pushed under a rug, as if it will never happen again. We keep pushing to have faith, but sometimes it seems as if even our faith is not enough.
I have learned, and practice a new habit that is helping me along within my habitual negative dwelling. Acceptance. Sometimes I cannot catch myself as I start to take-off with this old familiar routine of mine. Maybe that is just what I need at the time? The more I recognize that this pattern has a grip, the more I desire the change. If I just accept the fact that it has been decades of repetitive negatives that has shaped me into a man of many hurts and hang-ups, then how much more appreciative I can be as I overcome with the small, positive victories.
You know, grace is what we must also show ourselves. There are so many churches that preach damnation, guilt, LAW, and it makes a man or woman feel as if Jesus never came. It makes His grace a courtesy that was never found within His Word. It is shameful to not live for our Lord, to love for our Lord, and to reverently serve out of a deep respect for His willingness to save us through His redemption. The redemption that only He could carry out. It is a shame that so many cannot show themselves the grace that He truly shows us. How patient He is, when we are not patient with ourselves. How truly awesome He is. How truly loving. He buried my sin in order for me to be “well” within my time here. To be well within my fight with dwelling on my negativity.
I spend many times just observing His beautiful world. Sometimes I just hop in my car when I’m feeling down, and drive through the countryside. I take in His wonderous creation. The sky. The trees and landscapes. I may stop and listen to the rush of water, or go high on a hill and look into the many depths of His fashioning. Sometimes dwelling on His gifts makes the inevitable forces of evil, disappear. We can choose to live within His presence, or we can get caught up within our personal demons.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8 (NLT)