3 Ways To Help Break Undesirable Patterns
It’s July… and August is coming soon.
What does this mean? Well for me, over the years it’s proven to reveal that I’m easily irritated. That I’m really not enjoying the company of people I love and love to lead like the previous months. That Lisa and I are destined to have our annual emotional blow-up. That I’m potentially seeing the glass half-empty rather than half-full. That my attention span is shorter than it already is. That my hearing is distorted and my vision is blurred. And it’s all because – simply put – I’m tired!
Now, in the past, it was very easy for me to blame it on fatigue from the responsibility of ministry or work. Not to mention somehow creatively attributing my behavior to someone in close proximity. But, over the years I’ve had to take a closer look. I’ve realized, and even had to admit, that there was a pattern (in me) needing to be broken. A cadence of life that resounded over and over again, year after year. This intonation of life quite frankly, needed tending to. If not, the cycle of fatigue and frustration would continue on, leading to sinful behavior that hurt others, which then becomes an enemy of the Cross.
So, what frustrating patterns do you need to break? What cadences of life are you following? Can you, your spouse, your children or those you lead point to some “thing” that continues to appear over and over again? That “thing” which may not be easily classified as sin but, its fruit is surely not becoming of a follower of Jesus Christ. For me, it was/is fatigue that caused me to spiral. Now, before your “thing” becomes evidently sinful, maybe you too should take a closer look. With your courageous journey in mind, may I share some guiding points that have helped me?
Here are three practical applications I still use today to help me break undesirable patterns:
1. ADMIT THAT YOU’RE THE SOURCE
Taking a closer look at yourself is always the best place to start breaking the pattern. James 4:1 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is the source not your pleasures that wage war in your body’s parts?” I personally had to admit that I was the source of the pattern or conflict among me. I had to first declare that there was something “off” within me or I honestly had to make some life adjustments. Therefore, I was the immediate solution to breaking the unhealthy life pattern. Admitting you’re the source takes courage and of course humility, because no one desires to admit they’re the reason for any of life’s problems. Yet, your speedy confession will move you expeditiously toward healthy spiritual vitality, and the preservation of those depending upon your transformational influence.
2. ALLOW OTHERS THE SPACE
Allowing others the space to speak what they hear, see and feel about you in the moment, especially in the midst of the “thing” is crucial in breaking the pattern. Those you love and those you love to serve should have the privileged space in your life to honestly say what they hear, see and feel. I know personally it is so helpful to hear my bride (Lisa) say emphatically, “You need to take a nap!” Or even one our staff affectionately ask, “Hey Pastor, when are you going on vacation?” They’re all saying with care, “Hey Cedrick, you’re about to go there!”
Remember Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I believe the application of this verse expands way beyond its traditional manly usage. You see, there are people like your spouse, children, and your team who are all-in with you. They too are “similar” material (iron) who are meant to help sharpen you. Their critical eyes, ears and voice in your life are required to help you break those “things” in your life which have turned into unhealthy patterns. Please let them hear, see and speak freely, you’ll never regret it.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE THE HOLY SPIRIT
Through the finished work of Jesus Christ, we know with great confidence, His Spirit richly indwells all who believe. Therefore, He is ever present, even in the midst of our unhealthy life patterns. He is also our ready-present Helper and desires to teach us all things (John 14:26). The Spirit of our living God promises to always give us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Holy Spirit can supernaturally search all things and even know the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). And through the work of Christ and His divine power we have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness (1 Peter 1:1-3). Thus, acknowledging the active presence of the Holy Spirit in our everyday life is crucial in breaking unhealthy patterns.
When we recognize His presence, we then must accept His voice (or opinion) in every situation life brings us. Here we must choose to give Him space (to use His influence and Word) to make necessary adjustments before they become justifiable sinful behaviors. Like me, I worked hard so I was justifiably tired. My fatigue led to being short with my wife and even my team. This can inevitably lead to saying and even doing something that’s disrespectful to those I love—it is then sin. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He helps increase our personal awareness by alerting us of our unhealthy patterns. Still, we must be willing to let Him help us break the patters that can eventually lead to sin and can potentially dismantle the work of Christ in the lives of those we love and love to lead.
If we’re honest, most unhealthy patterns in our lives feel bizarrely normal. They can easily tip the enjoyable scale and have a way of abnormally affirming our flesh. They have the clout to feed our egos and strangely affirm our weaknesses. These dangerous patterns mostly go untouched because they may not appear often, yet frequently enough to never escape the memories of those we’ve infected by them. This gap in occurrence somehow causes us to unknowingly teeter on the brink of sin. Sin with the weight to cause emotional and spiritual decay in lives of those we love and long to serve well. So, no matter if that “thing” appears in my life every July (even as I’m typing) or if it raises its ugly head in your life even as you read this script but moving forward, let’s all embrace a spirit of humility. Our humility would then suggest, that I am the source, I need the ears and eyes of those close to me on me, and that I give permission to the influential voice of the ever-present power of the Holy Spirit in my life.
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Thank you, Cedrick! Great insights and advice to help us see what needs to be rooted out, with the help of those who love us, and the power of the Spirit to replace the bad fruit with the good!