“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit”. -Erasmus
Habit: Synonyms: addiction, custom, groove, manner, mode, nature, pattern, set, style Definitions: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary; customary practice or use; a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality
When I was growing up, my parents worked to instill in the 3 of us kids good habits. We made our bed every day (yes, even on Saturdays). Every day, we were to shower, comb our hair, and get dressed. Every day, we each had chores that needed to be completed by the end of the day. It was to teach us discipline and responsibility and they are habits I instilled in raising and training my son Jonathan. This post isn’t about these types of habits, however, but of spiritual ones. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, mentions habits in one of her journal entries.
“A habit is what we wear. A habit is the way we wear our days.”
In light of ‘spiritual habits’, which ones should I ‘wear’? I looked up the definitions for the word ‘wear’. Here are a few; to carry or to have on the body or about the person as a covering, equipment, ornament, or the like ; to bear or have in one’s aspect or appearance.
What am I carrying lately? What is ‘covering’ me? What is my equipment?? Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism? Usually, yes. King Solomon in Proverbs 1:9 wrote about instruction and wisdom that they “shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism are not wise habits to wear, especially if I believe that God is faithful to carry me through any situation.
Over the last year, I have been on a ‘minimalist’ kick. I haven’t nearly arrived at sorting through everything, but I did start with my closet. I donated bags of clothes that just didn’t suit me anymore. I stick to basic color schemes now that I know I feel comfortable in and that most everything matches most everything. I have a difficult time making (and sticking to!) decisions and having my closet cleaned out and simplified makes getting dressed much easier. Now that I have the basics I’m happy with, I rarely say, “I have nothing to wear”. I know what I like, I know what is comfortable, and I know everything ‘goes’ together.
I can compare that to a ‘spiritual’ closet and I know which thoughts are not comfortable..stress, worry, obsession over things I cannot change. I can choose to clean those out in favor of what is good. Stress, worry, doubt is really not supposed ‘to go together’ in the Christian outfit, anyway.
‘Put on’ bowels (depths) of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering.’ Colossians 3:12
In Ephesians chapter six, Paul writes about taking the whole armour of God; truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, word of God… No stress, worry, or doubt mentioned here.
I can choose to decide that I don’t want to wear discontentment and doubt. “Strength and honour are her clothing;”-Proverbs 31:25. I find that if I ‘take’ (mentally) the habits of stress, worry, doubts, obsessiveness over things I can’t control and put them away (far, far away), I find things I haven’t worn in awhile; mercy, kindness, longsuffering, faith, trust, the word of God. And if all that seems overwhelming, I can ‘try on’ one or two of them. I can work on kindness today instead of impatience. I can show mercy instead of an unforgiving spirit. I can let go of perfectionism in favor of a happier home.
‘Putting on’ habits is a choice. Driving out bad habits can be done by driving in a good one in its place. Difficult at times, sure. Painful, even. The natural tendency is to grip tightly to control, to discontent, and the right to feel this way. Which habits do I need to retire and which ones do I need to take on in order to be a better Christian, wife, and mom? How do I wear my days? If I’m ever in doubt and am not quite sure how to drive out the bad habit rearing it’s ugly head, I can put on the one good one that never fails- charity/love.
“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:14,15
Above mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering. Above forbearing and forgiving, charity is the way to wear my days because if I don’t have charity, I am nothing and there is no profit to any other good deed I could do (I Corinthians 13:2,3). Is my covering, equipment, or ornament charity these days? Something to think about each morning as I decide what I want to wear and how I want to wear the day.