On my flight home from vacation, I had a terrible toothache. I decided to order a glass of wine, which abated the pain for about an hour. However, as the soothing effect of the wine wore off, the pain returned. It gave me pause to me think about the things we do to mask pain in our lives and how once those things dissipate, the pain remains, and we are eventually forced to face our problems. If we aren’t careful, escaping can be the norm before we even realize it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good glass of red wine. Years ago, I worked briefly at a boutique wine store that specializes in small production Napa Valley wines. I learned a lot about wine, and It was a fun place to work. Who’s grumpy when they are shopping for wine? My husband and I are foodies; we love to entertain and have taken a few trips to Napa. But admittedly there have been times when I’ve heard that still small voice and had to check myself and my consumption and take a little break.
The daily stress of balancing work, marriage and raising children can leave you feel lonely, frustrated and isolated. Those stresses can be compounded when major life events occur, like moving to a new town, experiencing the death of a loved one, or the illness of a family member. We can all sometimes fall into habits that aren’t necessarily bad but aren’t truly beneficial either. And, if we are not mindful of our habits, they could lead us down a road we didn’t intentionally set out to travel. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV) says, “Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial…but I will not be mastered by anything.”
We live in society that’s so consumed with keeping up appearances and being independent that we isolate ourselves and hide behind a façade of perfect make-up and hair-do’s, material possessions and social media that shows only the happy highlights of our lives. We don’t post the bloopers, such as, “had a fight with my hubby today; here’s a pic of me with red, swollen eyes. Or, I feel really lonely right now; here’s a lovely photo of me at 3 pm, still in my PJ’s feeling sorry for myself and eating a pint of ice cream…oh, and here’s a great one of my yelling at my kid like a crazy person.”
God wants to be our source of confidence and comfort. I wish I could say that I had some sudden epiphany and realized this overnight, but it’s been a long process. It was difficult for me to believe that God really cares about me and loves me this minute, right here…just the way I am and despite everything I’ve done. God even knows the number of hairs on my head. (Matthew 10:30)
Have you ever felt a prompting to re-evaluate a habit or give something up? Perhaps it is an unhealthy relationship, a questionable TV show or that bag of chips you are eating every night? I believe that God gives us taps on the shoulder to prompt us to change, like an unfavorable doctor’s report or nearly losing a valued relationship. When we don’t listen and heed the signs, we can suffer the consequences. It’s always good to take inventory and review your habits. Here are a few suggestions to guide you:
How Do You Feel Physically? – Are you eating or drinking in a way that’s adversely affecting your health? Be honest with yourself and get check-ups regularly.
How Do You Feel Spiritually and Emotionally? – Listen to your conscience; are you guarding your heart? Are your habits honoring God? Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Pray about it – Ask God if there’s some habit you need to examine or stop completely. James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
Seek Counsel – Ask honest friends whom you trust and who won’t just tell you what you want to hear. Get professional counseling if needed. Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully
Read the Bible – What does the Bible say about your habits? I used to think that Christianity was mostly a list of “thall shalt nots” until I learned more about the Bible. It’s a guide created to protect us. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
It’s about balance. When we keep our habits in check, we are healthier mentally, spiritually and physically. When we are healthy, we are a positive force in the world and in the lives of those we love.