I have a routine. Every morning I get up, get dressed, fill my water bottle, read my Bible, then take my dogs for a walk in the woods. The dogs know this routine. If the weather is inclement and we cannot go, their whole day is thrown off…..and consequently so is mine, because they will keep reminding me (via bringing me various toys) that we have not gone for a walk yet. They are creatures of habit. So are we. My guess is that in the morning you eat, then brush your teeth. You come home from school and probably eat, relax, do homework, etc. Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do. So, I guess if you have good habits then that is good thing; but if you have bad habits, that is not such a good thing. Creating new good habits or breaking old bad habits is a very difficult task. I have read that it takes 21 days to create a new habit or break an old habit. That’s 21 days of consistently doing or not doing what you are trying to change. It’s hard! Here’s a few habits that I have tried to create over the years:
Exercising every day-succeeded
Drinking more water-failed
Not eating sugar-failed
Reading the Bible-succeeded
I am sure that you have your own list. And it seems that whether you succeed or fail, there is pain involved. When you succeed it is often after 21 days of “pain”. When you fail it causes discouragement or “pain”.
Basically that is what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel. Although the way He says it sounds kind of harsh. “If your leg causes you to sin, cut it off. If you eye causes you to sin, poke it out. It is better for you to go through life with one leg or one eye than spend eternity in Ghenna (that means hell). He isn’t literally asking for your leg or eye. He is saying that if you are doing something that is causing you sin, it is better for you to go through the pain of breaking that habit than to go to hell. So if you have a habit of not going to church, back talking, gossiping, watching porn, swearing, laziness, drinking, smoking, thinking only of yourself, being on your phone instead of being present to others…..it would be better to go through the 21-day tunnel of breaking the habit than to live a life that is taking a downward spiral.
You have one life. Choose things that will help you become the best version of yourself…..whatever that may be. That is what God truly wants for you. That is my prayer for you. Maybe as you go through the pain of breaking a bad habit, remind yourself that “this is one day closer to becoming a better version of myself.” I’ll be rooting for you while I chug my water at the piano.