A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Old Habits

Posted on: June 23, 2014

This morning—well, over the past few days, really—I’ve found myself slipping back into an old habit I spent all of Lent trying to shake.

What I tried to give up for Lent was critical talk, which included unkind words to myself. I found it easier to move past my mistakes when I stopped mentally raking myself over the coals.

yard cleanup

Hours of weeding later…

Yet on Saturday, there I was, chiding myself for so neglecting the garden that it took hours to clean it up. Never mind that I need to simplify the garden a bit since I’m just not as interested in yard work these days and that the weeding and cleanup did get done.

And this morning, as I made some æbleskiver (Danish pancake balls) for my son’s multicultural potluck tomorrow, I railed at my failure to produce a decent batch the first time. Never mind that it had been ages since I’d used the recipe, that the treats didn’t need to look perfect, and that I had some icing sugar and delicious berry jam my dad made for dipping them in.

Danish pancake balls

The finished batches of æbleskiver

Sometimes I still have to fight those perfectionistic ways. But I know that when I expect the impossible of myself, I may expect it of other people too, and my relationships can suffer.

Whatever persistent bad habit we may struggle with—negative self-talk, overspending, procrastination, and so on—we need to remember there are no problems we can’t take to God in prayer. He cares about our everyday struggles as much as he does about our crises; as we’re reminded in 1 Peter 5:7*, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.”

When we spend time with God, we can put our challenges and our failures in perspective. We don’t need to have a black-and-white, all-or-nothing view of ourselves. We aren’t called to become like Jesus in an instant but in a journey as unique to each of us as our fingerprints. A journey God is leading, as the apostle Paul told the church in Philippi and as we read in Philippians 1:6, 9-11:

And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I pray that, whatever habits we want to change, we would never forget this truth: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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