I have a problem. Maybe you can relate? It’s this: I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I don’t want to do. I’m quick to speak and slow to listen. Quick to judge and slow to show mercy. I make up excuses. I put requirements on the “thing” that needs doing and if the requirements aren’t meant, then I don’t have to do said “thing.”
Right now, that “thing” is getting up early.
Yes, getting up early. A seemingly minor thing that has become quite major in my life especially this time of year when school claims my days.
This is my routine: I go to bed at 10pm and set an alarm for 6am (rather, my husband sets his alarm for 6). I “command” myself to get up when the alarm goes off No. Matter. What.
But this is what happens: I can’t find the sweet spot in my pillow so I toss and turn till 11:30. Then the cat wakes me up at 1:27 so I get up to put him in the bathroom. Then I fall back asleep but wake up because I’m too hot or too chilled or my hips ache. Sometimes God wakes me up to pray. And when the alarm goes off, I lay there, pretending to be sleeping, but asking God to help me get going. And justifying the many reasons why I can’t get up: the pillow, the cat, the heat, the cold, the hips, blah, blah, blah. I glare at the digital clock, wishing my eyes had laser beams so I could burn it to smithereens.
But today was different. I laid there staring out the window asking God, again, to help me get going, and I hear him whisper. “I will be your strength, but you gotta get yourself outta this bed. You take a step and I’ll do the rest.”
So I thought of Paul and him not doing what he wants to do and me not doing what I want to do. And then I thought of James and the verse that says faith without works is dead. It arrested me so much that I got up. I hauled my sorry self up into a sitting position, groaning and grimacing the whole way, and trusted God to take care of the rest. I’m not a stick puppet with strings attached to a puppet master. I needed to take the step. So I did.
And in the doing, it made me think of cycles and breaking them. All broken cycles start with a step towards something different. In this case, I needed to sit up, cease from whining, complaining, and negotiating. I took a step and he helped, just as he said he would.
So here’s the deal: we all have cycles to break.
It could be internal cycles of worry, fear, indulgence, comparison, judgement, doubt, unbelief. Or it could be external cycles of divorce, addiction, entertainment choices, gossip, slander, driving over the speed limit, or not using your blinker. Either way: cycles trap us, but God’s grace sets us free.
The following are snippets of the steps I’ve taken to break cycles in my life. Cycles like divorce, abandonment, and unrighteous living versus righteous living. I’m not perfect, but I love and serve the One who is, and it’s by His power and might that cycles are broken.
Be aware of your thoughts.
(Listen to what you’re thinking)
Capture your thoughts.
(Grab the ones that tear down others or yourself)
Make them obedient to Christ.
(Flip the script)
Change your thinking.
(Be deliberate about your thoughts–on purpose)
Don’t think about what you don’t want to be, think about what you do want to be.
(Be still, oh my soul)
Use those weapons.
(Tear down strongholds and anything that’s set up against God’s thoughts and opinions)
(Grace abounds to you when you need it)
We’re called to transformation by the renewing of our mind. God makes us new, writes his heart on ours, and then calls us to a life surrendered and lived for him.
What cycle do you want to break? I’ll be diving deeper into these steps over the next several weeks. But it starts with a step. It starts with you putting action to what you say you believe. It’s starts with you sitting up, swinging your legs over the side of the bed and declaring, with your actions, that you believe God’s going to help you.
He’s your rock, your strength, your refuge, and your hope. And your grace for living today.