Gaining Traction in Our Day-to-Day Walk
Are you looking for change to happen in your life? If so, you’re not alone. A quick search online will bring up all kinds of results to get you started on your desired path. Want to adjust your attitude? Need to change a habit or two? There are tons of posts out there with advice on how.
I’ve been mulling over a question, though. How can we gain traction in our personal transformation? How can we create a way of life that actually sticks? As I look around, I notice some who seem to continuously practice good habits. They may have a steady exercise regimen or they might consistently make health-conscious food choices. I’ve talked with others who describe how difficult it is to keep a consistent routine going. They get started, but for some reason, aren’t able to maintain. I can certainly relate!
I, for example, am not a morning person. Over the years I’ve tried to establish the routine of getting up by 6am. I’ve tried all kinds of things. I’ve tried the gradual approach of setting my alarm for 6:45 and walking it back a little each day. I’ve tried a more extreme approach of setting my alarm for 5:30 and roughing it until 6 seemed easier. After just a few days of either approach, I could be found peacefully snoozing in my bed at 7am. Not a care in the world. So much for those efforts! Maybe next time! (Perhaps these strategies were too gradual and too extreme. Who knows?)
I’ve stumbled upon something though…I’m beginning to discover at least why some of my habits stick (and others don’t). Here’s what I’m considering:
1. Believing in something greater creates consistency.
My wife, who has cystic fibrosis, started walking in the morning. She wanted to do something good for her lungs and overall health. As I considered her newly emerging routine, several thoughts sprung up in my mind. They went something like this: I should walk with her. I want to support her. Life is short. Walking with her is an opportunity I will treasure.
After years of me fighting to wake up early, what happens? All of the sudden, I’m getting up in the morning on time. Do I find it easy? Absolutely not! Do I always spring right out of bed at 6am? Of course not! But a series of beliefs are overriding my natural inclination to sleep in. These beliefs have motivated me to develop more consistent habits.
2. Challenges can spur us on.
When I was a kid, I remember my family taking me to an ice-skating rink for the first time. This one was outdoors with an awe-inspiring landscape. The sky was clear. The air was crisp. People were bustling about. It looked like a lot of fun (I use the keyword “looked”). I sat down on a bench, put on my rental skates, and awkwardly walked toward the rink. I timidly stepped onto the ice. Immediately, my mind changed. This no longer seemed like a fun idea at all. I decided that my ice-skating adventure would become a wall-surfing one. Painstakingly, I toured the rink clinging to the perimeter’s edge. It must have taken me forever to get halfway around. Suddenly, everyone began exiting the rink. And there I was, on the other side, opposite of the exits. I didn’t know that the ice needed to be freshened up every so often…until the gates opened and I beheld a mechanical monster known only as the Zamboni. My eyes became like a deer’s caught in headlights. I was convinced that this metal mammoth would eat me alive. Needless to say, I’d had no formal training in Olympic speed skating. Wall-surfing, however, was immediately abandoned as I found myself zipping across the great sea of ice. Somehow, I arrived on the shores of the other side without even a spill. Once I’d made it, I found my situation somewhat comical. I learned something that day. I had what it took to skate!
As I’ve been reflecting on examples like these, I’ve wondered: Do they translate into our relationship with God at all?
I came across a Scripture today where a crowd of people asked Jesus what they should do to perform God’s works. The answer he gave blew my mind: “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” I just sat there looking at those words. Only one thing they needed to do: Believe. Believe in Jesus.
I have to admit, that I once read the word “believe” as some sort of vague notion. At best it might be used to express a point of view: I believe this…or I believe that.
Through my study time, though, I’m reconsidering. Belief isn’t just something we say. Belief goes beyond that. To believe in anything is to commit ourselves completely to it. To believe in Jesus then is…everything. In essence, every part of our life should grow out from that belief. All of the sudden we have a motivation to tackle the difficult yet important work God wants from us. All of the sudden, we recognize the strength he is building into us as we take on challenges that come our way.
No matter where you might be in your journey, anchor it to belief. It is there that we will find the traction we’re looking for!
 John 6:28-29 NLT