Write it down
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
I recently finished reading a book about rituals. It didn’t address them in the traditional context of “spiritual rituals.” Rather, it was talking about the decisions we make about how we spend our time that eventually become habits in our lives.
It’s an interesting premise: we all expend energy to complete the tasks before us. Actions like good hygiene don’t require a lot of energy, while responsibilities like self-control can consume a lot. But when something becomes a habit in our lives, it takes much less energy to complete it.
For example, as an adult, it doesn’t require any energy output on my part to remember to brush my teeth. It happens almost automatically when I get up in the morning and before I go to bed. But as a parent, I find myself reminding my boys to brush theirs almost every day. I don’t really remember it, but I suspect that my parents had to remind me, too, until it became a habit.
Anyone who’s ever started a diet, or an exercise program, or a daily time with God can attest to the amount of energy it takes to establish a discipline. Finding the daily motivation within ourselves is often not enough. We find ourselves quitting almost as quickly as we began.
Rituals are different. If we can be ritualistic about something in the short run, it can more quickly lead to a habit that requires very little energy to maintain it as an ongoing part of our lives. Often, creating a ritual is as easy as putting it on our calendars. The simple act of writing it down, committing to a specific time and place to complete the task, is enough to begin the ritual.
If we truly examine ourselves, I know there are areas in our lives that we’d like to improve. We might want to lose some weight, or exercise more, or have that daily quiet time that we’ve been promising God, but our efforts at self-discipline have failed. Why not try a ritual? Commit to a time and place by writing it down, then do it.
My friend once said that you can tell a lot about people by their calendars and their checkbooks. I think I’ll check mine today to see what’s really important to me. I hope I like what I see.
Grace and peace,