Habits

I began this new year wanting to feel the love of God deep in my bones. 2018 was a sprint and I was tired. I was tired of over working – not just in my job, but in my marriage, my friendships, my relationship with God. I have always been the epitome of a try-hard. I used to praise myself for it, saying that I was just dedicated or a hard worker, but as the years have gone on, I’ve found that I’m just really trying to prove myself. I just want to show that I’m enough, that I’m capable, that I’m competent. I want others to think I have everything and can do everything. 

 

So of course, I love new year’s resolutions. I love challenging myself and reaching for the unattainable goal of perfection. I love bragging that I’m going to take up running this year. But when January came around, I couldn’t muster up the energy. I caught myself thinking “I’m just so tired of doing things,”. Yikes. When you don’t want to engage with life, you know you need to slow down and take a breather. So, I decided not to do anything new, and not to make any goals. I just wanted to learn how to be and how to live loved - how to live content and secure in the path laid out for me. Not searching for the next big thing to accomplish, but letting my life feel a little simpler and quieter. I wanted to value connection to others and to God more than performance. 

 

I don’t think the church often promotes this way of living. I wondered if I was growing passive, or if my choice to slow down was sinful. Life should be hard, I thought. Following Christ means to carry your cross, to buckle down, to be God’s soldier. I take orders and I follow through; I put my head down and obey. But Jesus also calls us to rest, right? He calls us to stillness and to enjoy Him and worship Him, but I was so tired. I was realizing that the way my life was structured was stopping me from loving God and others well, and I knew that was the opposite of what He wanted for me. 

 

So instead of resolutions, I decided to adopt some new habits. I needed less duty, and more joy. I decided to spend more time doing things I actually like (I know, revolutionary). I never thought much about how I wanted to spend my time, but instead just filled it with things I should do. I wasn’t even sure I liked doing anything. I’ve never been much of a hobbies person. So I asked myself, “What did I enjoy doing as a kid?” 

I decided to read more and spend more time at the library – my favorite place when I was little. I get nostalgic and curious and playful every time I walk in. I created things. I colored and practiced pretty handwriting. I took long walks with my dog just because it was really pretty outside. Sometimes I’d leave my phone at home so I wouldn’t feel pressured by time or the amount of steps I was taking. I decided to learn a new skill that I’ve wanted to develop for a long time because I miss gaining knowledge in school. These were simple times that I already spent sometime doing, so I just devoted more time to them, and less time to things that made me push.

 

I even started to do things that would intentionally slow me down – I wanted to get over my hurry-and-get-it-done complex. I started intentionally driving in the slow lane. Seriously. If I felt rushed, I would make myself take a minute and think about what I was afraid of missing. And you know what started falling away? The unhealthy stuff I probably would’ve made resolutions about – watching too much tv, skipping my quiet time, sleeping too much, eating because I’m bored, and the stress and tension I felt on a daily basis. 

 

It’s the end of January now, and I am actually sticking to my habits. My resolutions didn’t die on January 2 like they usually do. I think a big reason for this is that my habits are reforming my life. The small things are becoming bigger things. I’m fighting the lies I believe about myself with my new habits. Every time I sit down to read a book, I consider it a practice of just being. It’s a way to whisper to myself, “You are not what you do. Just sit. God would keep loving you if this is all you did your whole life.” So I lean back into the love that’s been there all along, and I enjoy God’s beauty in the author’s words. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

- Savannah Becknell