Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Establishing Habit

I have been down this road before.

New year, new goals, new accomplishments just waiting fulfillment . . .

But the accomplishments never seem to come. We do what humans do best, promising "tomorrow . . ." as if we know that tomorrow is given to us, and somehow that mystical "tomorrow" never appears because we assume another tomorrow on the horizon.

Every year.

And yet, when I know it's a habit that I must keep I somehow manage. Cutting caffeine during pregnancy? No problem. Managing medication daily for my son? Of course. If I could do those things (especially the caffeine!) how is it that the defined habits I planned on my own to launch didn't develop?

Probably because I planned to do it on my own.

This past year I planned to put my focus in one place, in one word: presence. This word came to me a day or two after Christmas last year. I'm a teacher, and I was on Christmas vacation with my children, when I realized that I was multi-tasking all our time away- the few full days I had with my children that month were being squandered on my worries over a clean enough house, making sure we did all the seasonal activities we could, and generally being busy because it was the season to be busy. I was overwhelmed with guilt in that moment. My two little boys, the children I prayed to have for years before I conceived, two of the most precious people in my life and I was only giving them half of myself and my time!

I didn't set any other goal for the year but to be truly present wherever I was. No multi-tasking, no "just a minute", no "in a second". I'd love to tell you that the change was instantaneous, that after almost 9 months I've completely kicked the old habit and replaced it with the habit of presence, but I'm a serious work in progress, complete with failings and sorry excuses.

Oh, I did really well for awhile there, but then there were a few days of illness, followed by extra busy days with work and church obligations. It wasn't long before the old habit lay abandoned, and I and my family were worse for it.

I have believed for a long time that we must work for everything on this earth. No one hands you a job, a car or the money to fix the leaking toilet. But God's forgiveness? That you cannot work for, my friend. That is a gift that He gives freely to anyone who asks. It comes bundled with grace and compassion, in spite of our many failings.

Thank God for His grace. Thank Him for His infinite mercy. He raises us up when we fail, renews our spirits and girds our hearts for the things that lay ahead.

A new habit lays ahead of me, still embedded in that word presence.

But this time I go with God, not out on my own. I go forward in prayer and supplication, because I cannot live this life alone.

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