It’s Friday – my day off. I did not set my alarm last night as I do on workdays. Yet I woke up this morning at 4:31. I’ve been getting up at 4:30 for so long that I wake up even without my alarm. It’s an ingrained habit I can’t shake – even when I want to.
Some habits are bad – smoking, vaping, playing on the phone for hours, and negative self-talk. But some habits are good – daily Bible study and prayer, exercise, and speaking kindly to yourself. The key to making or breaking a habit is consistency. Doing (or not doing) the same thing every day sets the pattern your body or your psyche accepts as your default. Those habits become like well-worn ruts in a road that you just naturally “fall into.” Some of us need to pack some dirt into a few ruts and break our bad habits.
Paul was not a psychologist, but he understood this principle. He said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Peter agreed saying, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance” (1 Pet 1:14). The word “conform” means “to fashion oneself after” and these two verses are the only times it’s used in Scripture.
Do you get what this means? You and I have control of these patterns and habits and ruts. We set the default and shape our lives by our choices and routines. Just as my sleep cycle is used to an early wake-up time, our minds and bodies get used to the habits we create. I grew up with a pattern of pessimism in my family. We just didn’t gravitate to warm, happy thoughts. A few years ago I recognized that negativity had become a rut. I asked the Lord to help me and has been teaching me to renew my mind by filling the negative ruts with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). I’m seeing progress as my default is slowly becoming more positive and life-affirming, even amid a very trying season.
Now, I’m not just talking about “The Power of Positive Thinking,” but the power of God’s Word and Spirit to transform us from the inside out. If you choose that path. Get out of the ruts, Beloved, and take the high road.