If you’re unfortunate enough to catch daytime television, you’ve probably seen one of my favorite commercials. The product is called Lipozene, which is a dietary weight loss supplement. Their claim to fame is you can “lose weight without changing your lifestyle or eating habits”. I smile and chuckle a bit when I see this commercial and shake my head—“this is SO truly American”. We all would love change and positive results without actually putting any extra effort into the process. And I am right there too. Despite my scoffing, as I cannot seem to lose that extra 5 pounds I’ve been carrying—Lipozene is becoming more tempting laughably.
What are you currently struggling with—is it an addiction? Or is it an unhelpful behavior, habit, or attitude? It seems we all have things God would like us to press into for more healing. Yet, working on an issue requires just that…work. It means we need to put in some sort of effort on our side and still ask for the Holy Spirit’s power, help and guidance.
Creating a Helpful Structure
There is a very long list of issues which require some focused attention, but for this article I’ll use a more recent problem. Driving. Over the last several months, I’ve been cultivating some bad habits while motoring around our city. Stress, entitlement and a growing impatience have been escalating and I find myself becoming an ugly person when behind the wheel. Not to also mention the health issues—rising blood pressure, racing heartbeat. I’ve asked myself the question—“is this worth a heart attack?” There is a helpful structure I’ve been using lately which helps “pressing into” any issue (addiction, behavior, habit or attitude). It has five facets, and we’ll cover the first two in this blog. Here are my pithy titles:
The Set Up
The Get Up (taking action)
The Meet Up
The Jack Up (relapse)
The Make Up
The Set Up
Creating new habits and brain paths takes a while, so committing to a certain amount of time is the first step. How many days should I commit to working—two weeks, 30 days, 2 months? Next, set some time aside each day to pay some focused attention to the process. Which time of day is best—mornings, afternoons, or evenings? How much time should be set aside daily? Well, my mantra is “do something—anything!” Is it 30 minutes, 15 minutes? Even do 5 minutes if that’s all you can spare. For my nasty driving habits—I decided to do 2 weeks and set aside 15-30 minutes daily in the mornings.
What to do with the minutes in the mornings you ask? Primarily this is time to connect deeper with God and that’s why I like doing this time in morning. It gets my day off to a more grounded start. The next question is how do you connect with God? Is it through prayer or reading scripture? Is it a time of confession or doing some “lectio divina” (meditating on a passage of scripture) or doing some other type of spiritual reading? I like to start my time with confession to have a clean slate for the day. I also thought about reading some scripture each morning as that’s been lacking lately and spending some time praying for friends. Now that we have our basic “set up” structured, there is also a bit of time journaling and that comes in our next section.
The Get Up
During our morning set up, we take even further action by writing down what it is we’re letting go that is unhelpful or even harmful. Things which appeared on my list were feeling like I must police everyone else’s driving behavior and getting upset at situations which, for the most part, are rather petty. I also wanted to let go of the anger, road rage and the shaming faces and hand gestures that go along with the impatience. There is also an accompanying attitude of entitlement which rears it’s ugly head. Suddenly I deserve to run lights and speed (but weren’t you just policing everyone else’s driving, Scott?)—yep.
Now it is also true when tackling an issue in life that you can’t “just stop doing” something. Something needs to come in and fill the empty space. So, it’s time to also journal during the time set aside about what would you like to embrace? What is going to motivate a change in thought, attitude, and behavior each day? Here’s my list of what I’d like to see change while driving my car:
- I want to honor God, even in this small facet of my life
- I want to treat people as Image Bearers of God, rather than “things” which are in my way
- Breathe, breathe, breathe and don’t have a heart attack
- I want to leave a little earlier when traveling to allow time and not to make my running late everyone else’s problem
- I want to practice “slowing down” and not being in such an impatient hurry
A Daily Commitment
These “Get Up” action items become part of the morning “Set Up” and it’s been helpful to review them each morning. What is your daily commitment when it comes to these action items? For me, I prayed during my two weeks each morning—“Father, today I recommit to another day of mindful driving.” You can fill in the blank with whatever issue is important.
Putting this small bit of structure has proved to be very helpful when it comes to my driving. I saw positive results pretty quickly and now I arrive alive and even calm. In my next blog we’ll talk about the other 3 facets of helpful structure—The Meet Up, The Jack Up and The Make Up. Stay tuned.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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