A habit is defined “as a settled or regular tendency or practice, esp. one that is hard to give up.”
Throughout life, habits are formed that are both good and bad. When I think of habits, I usually think about things such as: eating habits, exercise (or lack thereof) habits, spending habits, routine habits, church habits, etc. The list could go on.
Last night, a friend of mine and I were leading a student eGroup with Elevation Church when the statement was made, “dating doesn’t prepare you for marriage, it prepares you for divorce.” While that seemed a little odd at first, the statement began resonating in my heart. Think about it, here’s how the dating world works out (more often than not). You find someone who’s attractive and begin pursuing them. You begin the relationship that is filled with giggles and love (even if it’s puppy love, it’s still true love to the puppies). As time goes on, what was once exciting and new becomes dull and boring. Before long, the relationship is full of arguments, conflict, and a lack of happiness. As a result, someone decides they’ve had enough and walks away. So what have we learned? When times get hard, we just walk away, right?
As I began pondering these habits that we form even as young as our early teens, I began to realize that habits are hard to break. Let me give you a few examples of some bad habits that are hard to break.
– You’re used to eating whatever you want with no restraints and now you’ve found yourself overweight
– You’ve found yourself in an addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, codependency, etc.)
– You live your life seeking the approval of others and as a result, you’ll do whatever it takes for attention
– You allow past experiences to restrict your current situation
– You are so committed to your work or hobby that you neglect your family
Although these are just a few examples, the reality is that we all have bad habits. The ultimate question is:
HOW DO WE BREAK BAD HABITS?
Habits, especially bad habits, are extremely difficult to break. And while I believe there are a few steps you can take to begin the process of breaking bad habits, I ultimately believe there is only one way to truly break bad habits. First, let’s begin with the process of breaking bad habits. I call it the four R’s.
1. Recognize the problem – If you don’t realize there is a problem, you won’t feel the need to fix it. Identifying the problem initiates the process of breaking bad habits.
2. Reach out – The biggest problem that most of us face in dealing with our bad habits is that we are either too ashamed or too prideful to admit we need help. Whatever the case, it is pivotal that you find someone; a friend, a mentor, a parent, to express your struggle.
3. Receive it – I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen people go to others for help and when the help was offered, they refused to listen to it. Chances are good that those outside the struggle have a better perspective on reality than you do. Receive it.
4. Raise Your Hands – So many times people feel defeated because of a particular fault or an addiction they are having trouble overcoming. Regardless of how you feel, raise your hands and begin praising God because the victory has already been won! Even in your sin, Christ died for you (See Romans 5:8).
While these are certainly a few steps that you can take to start overcoming bad habits, I truly believe there is only one way to completely rid yourself of bad habits, and that is: REPLACE YOUR BAD HABIT WITH A GOOD HABIT! The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old is gone, the new is here!
Stop spending all your time trying to fix what’s broken. Throw away the trash and replace it with a treasure. Stop focusing on the things you can’t do and begin focusing on the things you can.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.