I went out on Thursday night to go into Mildenhall to discover that the A1101 was closed en-tering Mildenhall for road works. I took a detour via Eriswell and got to my destination. Later when getting into the car I said to the people I was leaving that there were road works and I’d have to take the detour home. What did I do? Promptly drove the usual way to home until I came to the road works (from the other side!). U- turn to home. You’d’ve thought I’d’ve learnt where to go. No, I just followed my usual route – the pattern I’ve done for years.
The other day when Charlotte and I were having break-fast she reached into the cupboard but her porridge bowl was gone! (In all these years, I have my own plate for porridge but I never knew she had one!) I had my bowl already so I hadn’t just taken it but I did use a plate last night and it was in the dishwasher … We both know any bowl will do the job but once you get used to a certain size, etc, to then change just makes you think a little, adjust, react even if it as common or mundane as breakfast.
We are creatures of habit. We get used to doing things in a certain way. Often unconscious things by now, they shape our days, the way we do things, even the way we think or act towards people. Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am’. Ok. I wonder if it isn’t also ‘I do, therefore I am’.
I sometimes talk with people about friendship / marriage / relationship breakdown. What has happened to what was once something united and friendly and caring / loving? Lots of things obviously but there are often a series of behaviours – little at first – that build and became a pattern and now are part of the breakdown. If only behaviours could be different but often I’m told it’s too late – feelings and attitudes are now different –and it seems to me that the behav-iours have created or contributed to the feelings and attitudes. We have patterns of behaviour relating to work, home, our sexuality, our self worth, visiting certain family members, washing the car, and so on. Similarly we develop patterns of behaviour relating to God. Habits, of course, can be good ones that enrich our lives and the people around us. But obviously there can also be patterns of behaviour that keep us discontented and can make us and those around us miserable. Wanting change is more than just thinking about it – waiting for it to happen – I often ask ‘And what are you going to do?’.
Much of the Bible speaks of regular patterns of behaviour – worship, not letting the sun go down on our anger, daily prayer, serving others, seeking the loving response in all our cir-cumstances and relationships, speaking the truth in love and much more. We can see these things as chores imposed on us. However perhaps they are the deeds that shape us as we live by faith. Why would we even bother? (It’s a valid question.) Then I point you to a cross and an empty tomb and we look at Jesus’ behaviour – his entire life including his death com-prised actions that always had us in mind – that we might know that God’s behaviour is for us not against us. This God can be trusted. And when someone is deemed trustworthy and good then our behaviour – whether ‘big’ or routine – is shaped by that relationship.
Something to think about … (Now what are we going to do?) — GS