replacing habits

My daughter has a horrible habit of chewing on her hair. It’s a coping behavior that has come and gone and come back again over the past few years. While we spend a fair amount of time asking her to take her hair out of her mouth, I’ve recently started talking to her about replacing that habit with another one. When she picks up her hair to put it in her mouth, I’m trying to train her to put it behind her ear instead. Replacing the one habit of chewing, with a somewhat better one of putting it behind her ear. It’s a crazy hard thing to change a habit.

The same goes with us and our mental or spiritual habits. Back when I was struggling significantly with anxiety and fear, I went to see a biblical counselor. He called my anxiety and fears what they were: sin issues. My anxiety and fear, specifically of thunderstorms, stemmed from my inability to trust God. It was me moving into the future and forecasting what I predicted might happen (which usually wasn’t positive), which was in essence me attempting to be bigger than God. But when my mind started to wander into those predictions, I had to learn how to replace that habit with another one. For me, that means when my mind starts to go to that place of presumption I first start replacing my fearful thoughts with the verse from Philippians:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and petition present your requests to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

But to be honest, it took weeks and weeks and even into years before this became embedded into me. Habits are not easy to replace.

There’s a great book, that sadly I only made it partly through, about habits called The Power of a Habit by Charles Duhigg. While it’s not written from a Biblical perspective, there is so much of it that speaks into our spiritual lives. There are so many things we can change and improve in our lives merely by realizing our habits and replacing them with another one.

I really feel like this is the success of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts campaign. Choosing to see the blessing, choosing to count the gifts is a habit. When I take my pessimistic oriented mind and choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty, I am changing the habit of my negativity.

I’m sitting at a red light frustrated with the person in front of me who didn’t move fast enough and now I’m stuck at the red light again. In that moment, instead of getting angry and bitter about it and spending that red light fuming over the car in front of me, I change that habit and choose to find the blessings. I choose to find something to be thankful for. I choose to replace the habit of my anger with thankfulness.

There’s a great verse in 1 Corinthians: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. I think I’ve known that verse for years, but never really understood what it means to “take every thought captive” for in reality that’s the battle we are in. Taking every single thought that we have captive. But it’s not enough to just become aware of those thoughts, we also have to replace them.

It makes me think of the verse from Colossians:

“Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”


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moving into humility

Direct my footsteps according to your word.
Let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me…that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.

~ Psalm 119:133-135

Let no sin rule over me… This has been the refrain of the last few days. In so many ways it’s kind of become the song of my life. I feel God calling me to a deep sense of humility. As I parent. As I love my husband. As I keep a home and work within a strict budget. As I try and develop a hobby into a business. He is molding me and changing my mindset. That everything I do would be a deep reflection of Him and not me. That as I bake, shop, and create my mind would not be thinking how great I am (oh how hard that is to write, but how true it is), but instead would be singing His praises for the abilities and talents He has bestowed on me.
How much more joy is stirred up within me when I create something while praying that He would bless the work of my hands – that it would bring glory to Him alone!

He is developing a meekness in me. Not an inability to accept a compliment, but rather the ability to give that compliment to Him. To take that praise and give it to the Lord. For He is the one that has created that space in my life and given me those abilities.

Oh, that my mind would become like the meek man that Tozer writes about: one “who cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has decided that the esteem of the world isn’t worth the effort.”

205. for messed up bread…that is redeemed in the end!
206. for the refrains from a little girl as we return home from church
207. for the 1,000+ legos scattered around my house that are turned into something amazing by my talented young boy
208. for 2 extra days at home with the kiddos this weekend
209. for 2 extra days at home with my husband
210. for a rainy monday at home together
211. listening to 2 children interacting with each other with grace
212. watching the excitement that a new game can bring
213. the stamina of my young boy as he stands for 2 hours and cheers on his teammates, yet never plays
214. cuddling up on the bed with that young boy for a few minutes these last few nights as we do breathing treatments (not so much the breathing treatments as much as the time set aside for them!)
215. a basement that didn’t flood after 24+ hours of nonstop rain
216. the joy on my husband’s face as he completes a long standing project
217. the anticipation of a new kitchen faucet
218. a day running errands…including seeing old friends
219. finding God in the ordinary of my day: as I cook, clean and sew
220. the stirring in my heart to find Him
221. this song, which causes my eyes to close and just stop and listen

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