It’s a new year and like most of you I’m excited for the opportunity to start fresh and look ahead with total optimism. I have set new goals and have many ideas about what I want to accomplish this year. I’m determined to lose those extra pesky pounds, procrastinate less, improve my prayer time, and study my bible more. However, to really accomplish these things I’m going to need to break a couple of bad habits that have developed in my life.
I’m sure most of you can relate to this! So how do we change, eliminate those unhealthy habits, and experience victory?
Well, It certainly takes more than just our own will and determination to truly accomplish these lofty goals. Breaking bad habits takes time and effort, and a lot of perseverance.
When I became a Christian my bad habits didn’t automatically go away but God was patient with me! As I grew and learned what it meant to follow Him, so did my knowledge and understanding of His ways, and I was able to exchange bad habits, one at a time, with good ones. It also became clear that I wasn’t just eliminating an unhealthy or bad habit though, I was replacing it!
Of course, all throughout the ever changing seasons of our lives, we create new habits for ourselves, both good and bad.
We typically develop a habit to bring us comfort or because we’re bored. The unhealthy habits that we create to calm or comfort us are the ones that are more difficult to change. Sometimes what we’re experiencing on the surface is actually caused by a deeper issue. These can be tough to work through. However the first step to overcoming a bad habit is by recognizing the cause.
For example, eating foods high in sugar throughout the day could be a habit that was formed due to boredom or because it soothes a painful emotion brought on by an experience from the past. Either way, we should try to understand not only the cause of the habit, but why we are wanting to change it.
It’s also important to surround ourselves with people who will be encouraging, or even better, those who are already practicing these healthy habits in their own lives.
Simply modifying our behavior isn’t enough. It’s good until something unpleasant happens in our lives that seems to be more than we can handle. When this happens it’s common to fall back into a familiar habit that brings comfort to us in our time of need. Because it provides some type of benefit, it makes it difficult to overcome. Just trying to “stop doing it” rarely works. Instead, we need to replace that habit with a new one that provides a similar or better benefit.
I’m here to tell you that Jesus is the better benefit! He loves us more than we can truly understand and He’s made His Holy Spirit available to comfort, guide, and help us if we’ll let Him. He can give us the strength to resist the urge to go back to that familiar habit and He can even give us ideas on what we can do to replace it.
God tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
For me, the reason for wanting to replace my bad habits is to have a closer relationship with Jesus. I know that developing healthy habits will help with this goal. I also know that in order to be successful I’ll need His help!
As we give Him control of our lives, we are less likely to slip back into those old habits (which really do die hard). It’s no longer just about behavior modification. It’s about a complete shift in control. He is the ultimate example of self-control and it’s possible to exhibit this same control if we allow The Holy Spirit to help us.
So this new year, as you work through making healthy changes in your life, remember that breaking those bad habits, really isn’t so bad! I promise, the success and freedom you’ll experience is worth all the effort!