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  • Katie Smith

Old habits die hard



"First we make our habits, and then our habits make us." - John Dryden


A surfeit of "self-help" books exists for the taking. I hope to never be one of them. We can't just muster our own might, and believe we'll power through to lasting, meaningful change. At most, we see a change for a time, but then we find ourselves slowly flip-flopping on our prior convictions. Self-talk is akin to self-help: sometimes is works, but only for the instant it's used. Since the serpent's installation of second-guessing back in the garden's beauty, mankind has always followed suit, especially when the temptation is greater than the will.


When the premier lockdown hit the nation from COVID back in march, people were forced to face their hidden unhealthy habits in a hard way. The polls are split on whether it was detrimental or beneficial, but for a large portion of the population, relationships and habits improved or repaired because of our sheltering in tight quarters.


Like all words, Mick Jagger's old song "Old Habits Die Hard" can be read two different, distinct ways. In one vein, it's difficult-hard to get rid of (put to death) habits you've carried around for too long. In another vein, you can put to death old unhealthy habits if you do the hard work needed to exterminate them. Either way, their death is hard.


As fall approaches, windows open, and doors of shops open wider, I have seen and heard of so many people falling back into old habits they tried to kick at the start of COVID. Ways they had grown are now being stifled by the reminder and ease in "normalcy." It is certainly as refreshing as the autumn air to return to things we left at the pre-pandemic door, but we must be careful that we don't exchange our improvement for comfort. As everyone knows, anything worth anything is hard work. If our previous work created calluses that improved our perseverance, perhaps it's worth continuing to the finish line.


No one knows what we need better than our maker. Like a perfect parent, God made mountains, oceans, lakes, and forests for us to enjoy, but He will allow us seasons of intense drought to aid in our overall growth so that our pain tolerance improves and death no longer has any hold on us. Death becomes easy when you know the One who took the hard nails in your place.


I can attest to callouses that created fruits from hard labor. The fruit is more precious than gold. I encourage you to put to death that which you know needs to die, and live eternally joyful no matter the hard. How? Seek first the kingdom of God, and everything else will be given to you as well. For as Ecclesiastes tells us, only God can give someone the ability to enjoy life to the fullest despite hell, high water, or a pandemic.






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