Habits in the making

Four months ago I kept thinking to myself, I am so ready to be in February 2018 because I’m simply over all the mess and I am ready to see how different things will be.

Fast forward, and here we are – oh, how our moments exchange themselves for new ones all too quickly.

But it’s funny, because it’s February 2018, and sometimes I don’t feel that different.

I imagined that there would be more of a dramatic change, my shades of emotion shifting from a stormy black to a refreshing and shimmery white.

Is healing really this slow or, even worse, is it just…not happening?

But then God enters my thoughts with His own and says, “Rejoice.”

Truly, change isn’t black and white. It ranges across the entire spectrum of colors. Some days we feel excited and hopeful and new, and the next we feel stuck and burdened all over again. And it is here God says, “Rejoice.”

I was given such a lovely book this Christmas that discusses all of the avenues in which we can experience healing. The most beloved I’ve come across so far revolves around the daily rituals we do that can ignite healing. The author of “Love Heals” and founder of Thistle Farms, Becca Stevens, has a multitude of ideas that I could not refrain from sharing.

“This morning I went outside and felt the sunrise that was offered like a gift wrapped in bands of purple. I saw two beautiful rabbits feasting on clover in my overgrown yard, and a cool breeze kissed my cheek in the midst of the summer heat. I was full of praise and gratitude, and I felt inspired to birth new ideas. This morning I prayed with joy, Alleluia! Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

“But not yesterday. Yesterday there was another mass shooting in America, someone in our Thistle Farms community relapsed (after she had survived rape and being shot by her pimp), and a storm hid the sunrise. Yesterday I felt anxiety about death after visiting three people who were sick in the hospital. Yesterday was hard. On those days, I need to learn that then, too, I must practice all my daily rituals in faith. Then, too, I need to sing ‘Alleluia’ even as I weep.”

Change isn’t always dramatic, at least not overnight. Or maybe not even over four months. But it’s there, and it happens in the daily habits we commit to – the good ones, the ones that strengthen and refresh our soul.

Here are some habits that God is calling me to (through Colossians 4:2-6). I encourage you to consider the daily commitments He could be persuading you to try; sometimes it is the repetitious and unremarkable things that quietly instill the most change.

Rejoice in all things – daily. I am inspired when I’m in the midst of beautiful environments. I place high value of the aesthetics of my surroundings – ideally, my home would always be magazine worthy, my backyard would be a wild and colorful garden, and I’d live in a picturesque little town with the most eclectic spots to hang out at.

But in reality, our days do not look like a Pinterest board. So I’ve asked God, “How do I cherish the moments when things don’t look all that great – either on the inside of me or on the outside surrounding me?” I am to “stay alert, with my eyes wide open in gratitude” (Col. 4:2). I am to look and see the way Christ does (my favorite prayer lately is Lord, help me see this as you do). I am to cherish the messy backyard with the overgrown weeds along with my messy heart and its unwanted thorns; I am to be thankful for the way God provides in my surroundings and for the way He guides in my heart. I am to rejoice always.

Pray and be in the Word – devotedly. It’s quite simple: “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Prayer has been my shield in keeping unwanted thoughts out of my head; to avoid dwelling on what is harmful to my spirit, I counter it with prayer to distract my mind and converse with the Lord. Honestly, prayer was something I at one time did not enjoy (I went through multiple seasons of this). But God has graciously stripped me of security and comfort outside of Him so that prayer is my daily need; I feel lonely without having someone to talk to and understand my heart, and He is the someone offering to listen and tend to my needy heart. Why wouldn’t I want to further this habit and go ever deeper with Him through prayer and his precious Word?

Stop being critical and start being gracious. “Let your speech always be gracious. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Col. 2:6, The Message). I fail too many times in one day with this one. The Lord has not called me to waste my days withholding grace from people; I want to develop the daily habit of speaking graciously and gently to those I share my time with.

Make the most of my time. I don’t know how long I’ll be in this place God has me for the present moment. I don’t know how many dwindling days I have left with the people I work with, go to church with, and share my heart with – so I want to be in the habit of making the most of this time. I want to use it well. This means keeping the main things the main things, and not losing focus of why I’m here – to reflect God’s glory and let Him use me to serve and love those He’s placed me around.

I don’t always feel like rejoicing when I see a mess, reading God’s Word when I’m tired, saying something kind when I’m irritated, or making the most of my time when I’d rather procrastinate. But God is revealing to me that these daily commitments are what make me; I am in the becoming, and these are the daily keys to healing.

“We don’t always act because we feel like it. We act because of who we want to become. And we pray for what he hope to become.”

Though I don’t always feel different, I know He desires daily to make me different. But I want to uphold my own responsibility of keeping these daily rituals, sticking to the habit of rejoicing, praying, reading, learning, loving, and serving.

“God’s healing grace comes more readily as we do the daily work of being disciples – on good days and bad days, when the sun is bright and when the sky is stormy. That is how we embody the love we long to feel.”

Rejoice today, and then tomorrow. The change and the healing seep through the habits of the mundane. A remarkable degree of power hangs in the midst of the most common events. Don’t forsake them, lest you forsake your own becoming.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” – William Morris
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