In case we don’t know how bad habits take root in our lives and grow as fast and defiantly as weeds—Darren Poke, in his Better Life Coaching Blog gives us this explanation:
How do bad habits grow and what are some of the warning signs that we need to watch out for?
The example I would like to use is that of bad driving habits, but you will be able to see how this pattern applies to any area of your life.
Let’s just say that one day I slept in and was running late for work. I then have a critical decision to make. Do I risk the wrath of my boss and show up late – or do I take my chances and speed a bit on the drive?
I make the decision to speed in order to get to work on time. . . But when I get to work, I feel guilty because I’ve never chosen to speed before. I hope that a speed camera didn’t catch me and fine me.
After a few weeks of nervously checking the mail for a traffic violation notice – I have a sudden realization: I GOT AWAY WITH IT! I broke the law and there were no consequences.
I now have another critical decision to make. I can either buy another alarm clock and make sure that I never need to speed again – OR -- perhaps I will be less uptight next time and if I find that I’m in a similar situation in the future – I’ll just put the pedal to the metal – and speed again.
The reality is that if you get caught doing something wrong, like speeding, you COULD just consider yourself unlucky. However – chances are that if you get away with something that you know is wrong a couple times --- you will feel less guilty and the potential is there for a habit to begin.
And then the third critical decision is made. I purposefully start to set my alarm 5-10 minutes later than normal – knowing that I can just speed in order to get to work on time. I do so with little regard for the consequences and – in fact – become slightly annoyed that there are people out there trying to catch me.
At this point – I have a bad habit which formed -- and it will take a lot of will power to break this pattern of behavior.
When someone speeds, lies, steals, cheats, curses, slanders, belittles, abuses, gets intoxicated, is unfaithful ---- ONCE – the second time is always easier. And if we get away with it – and there are seemingly no consequences --- before long, a bad habit is formed.
St. Paul in his letters tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our temples sometime get cluttered with all kinds of bad habits –
and they need to be cleansed just as sure as Jesus chased the money changers and the sheep and the oxen out of the temple in Jerusalem. . .
In the 1780s, a boat shipwrecked off the coast of Hadawax Island which is in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska --- and a few stowaway rats made their way from the ship onto the island, resulting in a mass infestation so great – the island was eventually re-named: Rat Island.
After their arrival, the rats decimated the local bird population – by eating eggs, chicks, and even adult birds.
Over two hundred years later – in 2008 – a group called Island Conservation, finally intervened and successfully removed all the rats from the island. I don’t know how – maybe with lots of rat traps or people running around with nets. However they did it – it was done with the efficiency of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland!
Since then, most of the local bird life has recovered, with many species returning to the island that haven’t been seen there for many years.
It was an extraordinary recovery and a great victory for wildlife conservation.
We all have rats in our lives: bad habits that are destructive to ourselves and others.
As Darren Poke told us – it’s easy to develop bad habits that start small and slowly get bigger until they take over our lives and we become defined by them.
BUT IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO DEAL WITH THEM! And Lent is a most excellent time to do so. Through the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving—let’s make the changes that we know we need to make in order to drive some bad habits – rats if you will – out of our lives.
Let’s ask for forgiveness. Let’s ask for mercy. Let’s ask for the grace, the help that we need – to create new habits that are more aligned with our goal of following after Christ and imitating his actions in our lives.
Let’s use the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to get rid of our rats and get back on the right track of turning away from evil and doing good – of seeking after peace and pursuing it.
It won’t happen unless we make a commitment to do it – just like we have been challenged so far this Lent – to spend time in the desert --- and to commit to climbing the mountain. . .
ANNOUNCEMENT AFTER COMMUNION:
Today I received my second covid shot –and I encourage all of you to receive a vaccine. It’s not that I am going to start living recklessly – but I will feel a little safer doing the things I have to do – like going into hospitals and care centers.
For all of you still at home – know that we are anxiously awaiting your return to us – but only when you feel safe and confident to do so.
I would like to thank everyone for the fantastic job you are doing on continuing to support us financially at St. Patrick. Whether you are here or not—we still have bills to pay – mostly salaries to our teachers and others who minister in the parish.
If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us the importance of electronic giving – and remember you can always donate using your credit card so you pick up a few points along the way!
Our school enrollment is already strong for next year – we are staying current on our debt payments – so are looking forward to great things continuing to happen here at St. Pats – all thanks to you!
Moments in time...