Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Kick the Habit (No Nuns Were Harmed in the Writing of This Devotional)

By Allen White

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Matthew 12:43-45

I was first introduced to this concept as a child at summer camp. They weren’t messing around. Fortunately, most people will never have this exact experience, but there is a principle here.

I have a friend. We’ll call him “Pat,” because that’s his name. Pat was a three pack a day smoker for 25 years. His wife never let him smoke inside. So in the middle of the night, even during the winter, Pat wandered outside to smoke. Pat decided to quit.

He quit. Cold turkey, he never smoked again. Then, Pat started to gain weight – a lot of weight. After a year or so of not smoking and overeating, he went to see his doctor. The doctor examined him and advised, “Pat, if you don’t stop gaining weight, I’m going to ask you to start smoking again.” Apparently, one road was a slower death than the other.

Most of us have tried diets where we only obsessed over what we couldn’t eat. There was nothing to fill the gap. Our stomachs were swept clean while the Oreo demons lurked nearby.

Stopping a bad habit without a replacement is sort of like jerking our foot off the clutch without giving the engine any gas. You just don’t get anywhere.

This is why I’m a big advocate of Celebrate Recovery. While the evidence of the battle is found in a life-controlling problem, the battleground is in our minds. Sheer resistance can get us a little relief, but long term success involves a shift in our thinking. If we forsake one habit, but don’t change our thinking, we resort to a new habit of some kind. Nothing has changed.

We can even pour ourselves into admirable habits – over-exercising, over-working and even over-volunteering. These imbalances produce great accolades. But, once a junkie…unless you change your thinking.

Where are you stuck? What do you feel is impossible to change? Prayer + Support + Hard Work = Change. But, forsaking a bad habit without changing your thinking will only lead to another habit. It’s your life. What do you want it to be?

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