During my twenty months of chemo treatments I struggled to remain focused and energized. I became a strong believer in the importance of naps and learned to pace myself in new ways. Pre-chemo Dan loved to use the time after dinner to read and study. It was my time to catch up on what was important to me. During my chemo treatments I found it very difficult to read. I could not remain focused and would need to read whole sections a couple of times to figure out what an author was saying. At the end of the day I was often exhausted and if I could stay awake in my chair that was a victory. It was not unusual for me to sit down in front of the television and “relax” the night away. Honestly, it was about all I could muster during my treatments.
When we decided to take a break from chemo my focus slowly returned and the effects of “chemo brain” gradually lessened. What did not change was my habit of going to sit in my recliner and watching television for much of the night. I had become comfortable, dare I say addicted. My habit was slowly becoming my reality. Each night I would think, “you should go to your study and read.” Each night I would come up with a reason to stay put and watch the night slowly pass me by.
Habits have a way of slowly morphing into something that defines us. This happens when we intentionally start a new good habit in an effort to transform some aspect of our life. It happens subtly and often goes undetected when a bad habit becomes something that shapes and defines our personality or lifestyle.
A few weeks ago I was at lunch with a good friend of mine. We were talking about life and sharing from our experiences. He spoke something along these lines, “I have no respect for someone who wastes all their time with television.” As soon as he spoke it I knew the words were for me. For the next few nights every time I sat down in my recliner I thought, “How could I better be investing my time?”
I returned to my study. Cleaned and organized it the way I know it needs to be so that I can work efficiently. Then one night instead of visiting my recliner I went downstairs to read. I completed a book within two nights. It was exciting to “find myself again”. The pre-chemo Dan was alive and well. I had been held captive by a habit born out of illness and weakness. I had allowed that habit to slowly become my reality and without those words spoken over lunch, who knows it may still be true today.
For the last two weeks I have been developing a new (old) habit. I am making use of my study the way I want to. I am reading, writing, spending time in prayer and thinking about life and ministry. It has been fun to watch one habit die while another comes to life. In all of this…May God be glorified!
I am not much into New Years resolutions. I will ask you this question, “What habits do you have that are slowly starting to shape and define your reality?” Are they good habits or ones that might need to be adjusted or rejected altogether?
As we get ready to start a New Year this might be a good time to pick one bad habit to get rid of and one new good habit you want to cultivate in your life during 2018.
To truly make this a life transforming experience you might consider taking the following questions to Abba Father in prayer:
“Abba Father, what habit would like to see me foster, develop in my life during 2018?”
“Abba Father, please show me which habit of mine would bring you joy if I eliminated it from my life?”