Wednesday Word: Habits
Habit is overcome by habit -- Thomas A'Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, Chapter 21
We all have various routines that we follow, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes of our own making. Our various jobs or levels of education require us to do things in certain ways. For instance, those of us who are still working or in school need to get up this morning, shower, dress, eat, and get out the door by a certain time in order to be at the job or at school at the appropriate time. Our Monday through Friday routines are pretty much set for us.
I have a routine that I perform before every football game that ensures I have everything needed and am free to concentrate on the game.
Habits, though, are something deeper than routines. Habits may start out as routines, but, over time, they become part of who we are. The dictionary defines a habit as, “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” I think of people who smoke cigarettes, or Joe Morgan's left arm twitch when he was at bat, or my left foot pushing the clutch when coming to a stop sign (even though I now drive an automatic). And there are plenty of other examples we can think of, I'm sure.
Not all habits are good. Not all habits are healthy. Some habits are neutral.
Our pledge campaign is gearing up and we will all be receiving letters asking us to consider how we will support our parish with our time, talent, and treasure. As we prayerfully consider how we can do that, I would also ask us to consider our habits.
We are asked to love God, love neighbor, and change the world. We are asked to be the body of Christ in the world, and to be the face of Christ in our world. And we are asked to proclaim the message of the gospel, bringing hope to the hopeless, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, love to the outcast.
As we look at all our parish does, and as we are asked to consider how we might participate in the life and ministries of our parish, what would happen if our participation and our routines became habits? What would this place, and the world immediately around us, look like if our routines became involuntary behaviors? In other words, what if we prayed habitually, worshiped habitually, loved habitually, welcomed habitually?
It can be done; but we will need to work hard at replacing our old habits with new.