"Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process." Phillips Brooks, American Clergyman and Author
Apparently, the easier something is to do the harder it is to change. To put it another way, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you get better at it. This is as true for horse riding as it is for drinking. The only thing that separates them is that the first you can eventually master, in time the second will master you. The first is a discipline, the second a habit.
I have a bad habit, I stay up too late. I kid myself it is because I am a night owl not an early bird. The truth is I should just get to bed earlier. Why should I get to bed earlier? In fact, why should we pay attention to any of our bad habits or little slip ups? Does bad behaviour really matter? Is there anything really wrong with a little white lie here and there, a tiny grudge held, one cigarette, a bit of jealousy or spite? The short answer is: it matters when it comes to the crunch.
The crunch is that decisive point, maybe not today but an inevitable sometime. The day which determines the future.
I’ve been reading a book called Inviting Disaster by James Chiles. Chiles is a man who has spent much of his highly trained life working out why disasters happen, and what we can do to avoid them. He has consulted with NASA, on oil rigs in high seas, at huge international factories, for airlines. His numerous articles on disasters and prevention have appeared in Smithsonian, Air & Space and Harvard magazine. This man knows what he is talking about.
All disasters happen on crunch days. Every single one of the world altering disasters that Chiles has investigated - from the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic, to the capsize of the world’s mightiest drilling rig Ocean Ranger - had one thing in common. They all started with seemingly insignificant things, little slip ups. Stuff that really shouldn’t have mattered but when it came to the crunch, really did.
The 'unsinkable' Titanic was manufactured with safety compartments to hold water at bay if the ship was struck by an iceberg. The safety compartments failed because the rivets - iron bolts holding the compartments together - were manufactured in haste. Costs were cut and so were corners. As a results the Titanic's rivets were of a much lower quality and strength than they could have been. The iceberg found the ship, the sea found the weaknesses in the safety compartments and the rest is history.
The 'indestructible' Ocean Ranger oil rig floundered in high seas that were typical to the Grand Banks where the rig was located. The rig had been specifically designed to survive these high seas. The collapse and eventual demise of the rig started with a tiny window that someone was meant to shut. The space shuttle Challenger’s much anticipated launch ended in tragedy because of the failure of a tiny part, an O Ring, that had been hurried through testing - despite warnings - due to timing and budget concerns.
"We weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it." Horace Mann
James R Chiles argues that all of these disasters were avoidable; they all started with tiny problems, little slip ups. Stuff that really shouldn’t have mattered but when it came to the crunch, really did. A ship that was built to survive a collision, an oil rig fit to survive an almighty storm, a space craft that should have reached the moon. The way we live today determines how we will survive when it comes to the crunch.
Habits, Good and Bad
So what has this got to do with taming bad habits? We are, like it or not, made up of the sum of our daily actions, our habits good and bad. Like a stained glass window, all these pieces come together to make a picture. The picture depends on how we assemble the pieces. If I get to bed late every night, I wake up tired, I put unnecessary pressure on my day, my health and even my family. Bad habits and little slip ups start small but they don’t stay that way, they build over time until they are big enough to hold us back and drag us down.
We weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it. Finally we may find ourselves trapped, but there is a way out.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10, NIV
Life In The Light
If you are struggling with anything that you cannot but want to overcome. If you are living a lie, are imprisoned in your past, or to behaviour that you want to be rid of you. Take it from someone who has been there - it is so much better to work through the pain and walk, however slowly, towards your freedom. At one point in my life, all I had was this simple prayer "Dear God, please help me." Within two weeks He did. Since that simple prayer I have been learning to walk with Him, through thick and thin.
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:25, NIV
Whatever the pieces of our lives are like – the good, the bad and the difficult – all the pieces come together to make a picture. And like a stained glass window, despite the cracks and the jagged edges, that picture comes to life in the light.
Why not ask Him to help you with yours?