Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some Habits Must be Broken

There are words, themes, lessons of sorts that have been swirling around my head for quite some time. It has stumped me, unable to move forward in words and thoughts until this is sorted out. I know that God is teaching, transforming, so I search for a quiet moment on this precious Sabbath to process and decipher what it all is. By God's grace, now I sit alone, away from the tugs of little hands and demands of household chores, with people milling all around in laid back, African style, and a welcoming latte resting in front of me. The foam of the drink has been artfully shaped into a gentle heart, wispy and light, reminding of of what it is that God is after. Mine. My heart. The steam rises up as I struggle to offer up these thoughts and words.

Speak Lord. Your servant is listening. God of order and comfort, bring order to the tornado of thoughts. 

God, I hear you speaking.

He speaks healing.

He speaks comfort.

He speaks joy.

He speaks gratitude.

He speaks peace.

He speaks Life.

Anger is a habit, detrimental, devastating, destroying habit, but a habit nonetheless. Learned. Practiced. Mastered. It starts out small. Someone offends, betrays, wrongs in some way. I feel the offense and take it in. I welcome it in to unpack and make itself at home. It dwells, and welcomes its sisters, bitterness, resentment, and rage. They are messy houseguests, but stay for quite some time. They begin to call the shots. 

In a move of protection from further offense, I callously write the person off, shrugging of the hurt as no big deal. Doesn’t bother me. I don’t need that in my life.

So in the name of defending self, in response to a small hurt, a small corner of the heart hardens, blackens, and dies. I don’t feel it because it was small, an inconspicuous death numbed by the sense of justification and gall. It crept in unnoticed and now sits quietly, brewing, waiting to spread.

The first death took a small toll, though ire and disgust glazed the view. But by the third or fourth death, the response is a killer on autopilot, and the funeral is swift and emotionless. The mourners stand on the graves of previous victims, as the cemetery is becoming quite crowded. There is no thanks for things seen, or unseen. Nothing can be offered up, not even condolences for the tragic passing, as the true tragedy lies in the lack of vision for what is happening. The eyes are closed to the divine, and only hurt lingers. Gratitude is dead.

And so the cycle is formed, the habit established. Anger has moved in, as it alone can live in the blackness of a dead heart. Lifeblood cannot pump to those regions. Light cannot dwell with anger. Growth cannot compete with despair. A slow shut down has begun.

And yet He has spoken Life. The heart can only house one feeling at a time. It can only be filled with one spirit at a time. Life and Death will not cohabitate. Light and darkness with not reside side by side. Anger and peace will not live together. Mercy and disgust will not hold hands. Gratitude has no dwelling with such darkness ruling the land. So when He speaks Life, He speaks change, transformation.

He speaks a new thing, just as He is calling His children into a new creation, with a new name.

But then this habit must first be broken. 


  1. oh these lessons are hard... these breaking of habits... but he listens and hears and does the hard work for us. and we emerge, whole. your comment blessed me today, friend. thank you so much. e.

  2. wow, shauna. this is hard and good. i know i invite anger to linger, too, and i need this Spirit-breathed transformation.

    your humility is refreshing, and your contrite spirit will not be denied. God is so good!

  3. I was so blessed by your post today. Your post also solidified something that I felt God wanted me to share with my prayer group women today. We talked about myelin and the way the brain works in order to create habits, etc.

    I'm sure that sounds stupid, but it really was a God-thing in our session today. To me, the concept of habits reminded me that faith is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Thank you for posting!


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