I love a fresh slate. God’s Word tells us He is always creating something new in us. Therefore, we don’t really need a new year to know that each day is an opportunity to start afresh. But there is something about turning the calendar over to a brand new start that inspires us.
Many of us start a new year wanting to rid our lives of some choice, habit, pattern, or lifestyle that we know is for our harm not our good. The problem is that ridding our lives of bad habits isn’t easy. Sometimes we want a bad habit or pattern gone so we try hard initially. The results don’t come immediately so we become discouraged. We don’t recognize the results we hoped for, and we doubt it’s worth the fight and effort. Eventually, we quit trying. It’s easier to stay in patterns that are familiar. Even the ones we know deep down are not for our good.
To desire to stay in a habit or pattern that is comfortable is to allow fear to grow bolder. Fear wears many masks. One such mask is the mask of comfortable. Fear of change, the fear of leaving the known which has become so familiar for the unknown. Often we fail at changing a bad habit, lifestyle choice, or pattern because we fear the uncomfortable process that change will usher in. We fear the pain that is inevitable with the gain. We fear the unknown of the process as that pattern or choice is purged or refined out of us. We choose to stay in the known, the comfortable, because fear has convinced us it is the safer place.
Fear is from satan, never from God. When fear speaks, it is never God.
About 11 years ago, I was addicted to Coke. It is all I drank. Never more than mere sips of water through the day. My body ran on less than its best, but I knew no different. Eventually I reached the point of realizing a change must happen.
I reached for a friend because I knew with a habit like this, I couldn’t do it alone. I needed a cheerleader, a coach, an encourager, and mostly….someone to hold me accountable to do the hard work. My friend gave me a workable plan when I expressed how impossible this task seemed for me.
“When you wake up in the morning, chug 8 ounces of water. Don’t think about it, don’t sip on it. Just do it, and do it fast. Then at 10:00 am, chug another 8 oz glass of water. At noon, chug another 8 oz. You are not allowed to have a Coke until you have chugged a minimum of three 8 oz glasses of water, and you can’t have a coke before noon.”
It was a plan laid out for me. One that broke down an enormous lifestyle change into sip sizes. It took the impossible and sectioned out the small steps I would take. Little by little. Taking only one day at a time. I was not to look past the day I was in. Each day was a fresh start. Each day held victory if I did the hard work of taking the steps necessary for that day only.
Over the next 2 weeks, my cravings for Coke drastically decreased. In fact, I found that when lunch arrived, I felt so good from my water intake that I didn’t desire Coke. I knew that Coke would spike my blood sugar. I knew that I would spend the afternoon craving more sugar. I felt great in the morning, but when I turned to Coke, I began to feel bad again. However, I had become so accustomed to living on less than best that I had no idea how bad I actually felt. In fact, my “bad” actually felt normal. Until my body was cleansed, I didn’t know how incredible I could actually feel. How energized and alive.
Over the next several months, which turned into years, my Coke habit changed from 3-4 Cokes a day, to one a day, to one a week, to one a month. Until 2 years ago something happened I never would have believed.
Two years ago, I began a 40 day journey on The Daniel Plan. Fast forward 6 months, and one day it hit me, I hadn’t even tasted a sip of soda in 6 months. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t intentionally trying to never have a soda again, but I felt so great that I simply stopped desiring it and began actually craving food and drinks that my body was designed to live on. Once I realized how long I’d gone, I realized I never wanted to go back to sodas. It’s now been over two years since I’ve had a soda. I’ve tried to take a sip and gagged. It tastes like syrup through a straw to me now.
My kids can’t believe it because they saw how much I loved my Coke.
I’ve learned that I will crave what I feed myself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. If I feed my body sugar, I crave more sugar. When my body was rid of sugar and taking in pure water, it craved pure water. In greater quantities. When I feed myself escapes through social media, this is what I crave. When I rid myself of my electronic addiction, and spend more time with God or family, this is what I begin to crave. If I feed myself pleasures, I crave greater pleasures. If I feed myself shopping excursions, I crave more new things. Our cravings grow from the appetites we feed.
Sometimes we listen to our cravings. We lean on these and believe the lie that we can’t live without them. Only when we purge ourselves of the things that are not for our good, will we begin to crave those things that bring us life.
I share this with you to encourage you in whatever that “thing” is in your life that you feel is impossible to change or get rid of. Whatever that “thing” is, God desires His best for you. Any change for good desires will be hard because you have an enemy that desires the worst for you.
This enemy will deceive you. He will tell you lies like you will never rid yourself of this habit. He will tell you change like this is for other people but not for you. He will feed you lies so you can justify your bad habits. He will actually tell you it’s not that bad. He will bring other people to mind so you can compare yourself to them and feel better about your choice.
There is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet. It is the one thing that will make your impossible possible. Prayer. Prayer is the power to change. Prayer is the means by which we can come to God and humble ourselves, submit to His plan and His way. To confess and repent of our idolatry or addiction, which we have nicely called a habit. Prayer is where we come to Him and ask Him to give us the strength and the power to take the hard steps.
In our culture we are prone to leaning into the easy. Today, let’s lean into the hard. Lean into knocking down strongholds. Let’s tear down lies and fear and boldly seek God’s best for our life.
I don’t know what your “thing” is. Quite honestly, we all likely have many “things”. Rather than focus on changing everything at once, pick one thing. Celebrate small steps of victory. Watch God do a mighty work through your faithfulness to follow one small step at a time.
6 Practical Steps To Replacing Bad Habits:
2-Reach for an accountability partner. Tell people what you are doing. Let them cheer you on.
3-Make a daily plan. Action steps you will follow.
4-Know the big picture, but focus on the steps you will take each day. Look only at the day you are on. Don’t look down the road.
5-Celebrate the small. Celebrate the first victory and let that embolden you.
6- Speak truth. It’s the only way to silence the fears and lies of the enemy. Write Bible verses on notecards and recite through the day.