Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Breaking Bad Habits

Because of the opportunity to develop Debtor/Creditor relationships (see blog post "Ownership:  Are We Not All Debtors?") and the agency we've been given to choose WHO we will develop these with, we sometimes choose creditors that turn out to be Survival Creditors (#LoanSharks).  Either we made a bad choice to begin with or the relationship changed over time.  Sometimes we’re so young when we enter into a Debtor/Creditor relationship that we don’t exactly know what we’re getting into.  All of us have established these kinds of relationships with people or substances that are less than perfect.  These relationships are the foundations of our bad habits, addictions, or just our less than ideal behaviors.

Listen:  "Who To Listen To" by Amy Grant

For example, I developed a Debtor/Creditor relationship with treats when I was young.  I learned to rely on treats for comfort or when I got bored.  Partially this relationship was formed because of the Joy I experienced with family and friends when we ate them for holidays, vacations, or parties.  Those were good times so I associated good times with treats.  I also was rewarded with treats both at home and in society.  I introduced this Debtor/Creditor relationship to my kids before I knew any better.  Most of my family and friends still participate in this tradition.  We all like to eat treats and eating them together is even better. 

But the issue is that when I eat treats, I am prevented from obtaining my other goals to the level I am satisfied.  I discovered about 16 years ago that what I ate affected my emotional balance.  I just happen to be very sensitive to imbalanced nutrition.  When I eat too many treats, which in my opinion is not a lot, my ability to maintain my emotional balance in the face of everyday conflict decreases.  I have noticed this same trend in my kids but it doesn’t seem to bother them as much as it does me.  For whatever reason, I do not like this shift in loss of control.  My spirit doesn’t like it much.  And so when I lose my emotional balance to the degree that I cannot respond to conflict well, I feel a loss of the Spirit.  I can’t tolerate that forfeiture.  So it turns out that this happy tradition of eating treats is a Survival Creditor for me.

The actual person behind this "happy tradition" is kind of hidden.  All we can see is the tradition, unwritten law, custom, practice, ritual, or way of doing things.  We could say the Survival Creditor is the store where I purchase the treats or the ingredients to make them.  But I think the store is innocent.  Yes, they offer treats but they also offer a lot of balanced nutrition.  My own agency in how I will use this Creditor seems to be a major player.  All I can see of the hidden Survival Creditor is the traditions of not only my family but our entire society.  Nutritionists call it “the American diet.”  A common practice of our society in which we rejoice together is to eat lots of food together.  So here are the rules of this Debtor/Creditor relationship:  If you want to have Joy with us, get together with us and eat lots of food.  If you want to have greater Joy, get together with us more often and eat more food (but you should also be in great shape too so...). 

This is just my example.  Not everyone is so sensitive.  But I speak of it because everyone has some kind of Debtor/Creditor relationship they are in that they want to get out of because it conflicts with a better Debtor/Creditor relationship that they want to get into.  Good, better, best applies here.  It’s not like the treats are the worst thing in the world.  They’re not.  But what is better?  That’s what I have determined I personally value more.

The better Debtor/Creditor relationship that I want to get into has different rules for obtaining what I want, which is Sustainable Joy.  I value Sustainable Joy more than I value what treats, family, friends, holidays, and vacations have to offer.  It gives me the capability to stand steadfast in the face of adversity—even when it gets pretty tough.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ~John 14:27

"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." ~John 15:10-11

In this relationship, the Creditor is obvious to me—the Lord, Jesus Christ.  His rules are to fast from treats and the over-consumption of any substance or material item.  He would have me eat what my body needs for health and purchase whatever I need to live temporally but not to go to these things for my spiritual peace and energy.  When I follow these rules, my ability to sense the Spirit increases.  Sacrifice increases our sensitivity.  It makes it so the smallest things become so valuable!  It is the very best state I have ever lived in!  I prefer it there because it is so intense, I can maintain my balance, and my progression in my Goal Achievement Journey is maximized. 

Listen:  "Can't Take It In" Imogen Heap --The Chronicles of Narnia

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Great Audiobook!
That means I need to break up with the Treat Debtor/Creditor and work hard to establish my sacrifice relationship with the Lord.  Both these actions need to occur.  Separation from one Debtor/Creditor and combination with another.  If I tried to separate from one without combining with the other, I would go back to the first.  That’s because I’ve developed a dependency on the first and it has been a long-term relationship.  We have a lot of history together and those are the hardest kinds of relationships to break up with.  It is so hard because it means I also have to separate myself from the people I love in my family and community to a certain degree for two reasons.  1.  My not partaking makes them feel guilty and think I’m a party pooper. 2.  I am seriously tempted when I need to be with them.  It is painful when everyone else is eating treats and I’m not.  Sometimes I’m in a major hard place in my training with the Lord so I don’t feel his Peace as readily as usual.  Enter treats.  Increase in adversity.  I’d rather stay home from the party.

Listen:  "Starts With Goodbye" by Carrie Underwood

Bottom line:  Both good and bad habits are created from Debtor/Creditor relationships.  If we have a bad habit we want to break, we need to identify the Survival Creditor—whether it’s a person or a societal tradition.  We need to break up with that Survival Creditor at the same time as entering into a new or closer relationship with a Paradoxical Creditor (#JesusChrist).