Why Old Habits Can Be New Resolutions

Think back to high school or college, or maybe even elementary school. Remember the sense of excitement that came from doing your favorite activities? Maybe it was playing a particular sport, reading, camping with family, or playing a particular game requiring your best skills. What were you good at? Where did you sense your natural talents and abilities being developed? Think about some of the most fulfilling moments in your life. What were you doing? How did you see God using you?

Often, at this time of the year, we look to eliminate bad habits from our lives. While there is nothing wrong with trying to lose weight, eat less sugar, minimize time on the internet, watch less TV, or monitor our spending more closely, it is easy to become discouraged and demotivated in such endeavors. I was recently reminded of the excitement that comes with returning to old habits, constructive skills or abilities I already possess, but have allowed to gather dust on a shelf. Even more important is renewing faithfulness to a gift or calling I have recently ignored.

After giving birth to my twin daughters, I entered survival mode, trying to get sleep between feeding and changing them. I let my gym membership lapse and stopped my regular workout routine. Over a year later, I decided to head back and try a group workout class. I felt nervous as I did, knowing my body had gone through a lot in the past couple of years. As we began the exercises, I definitely felt achy and tired, but was pleasantly surprised to feel muscle memory taking over. The routines my body had done for years came flooding back, despite the lengthy absence. Latent talents and gifts can be similar. Sometimes we just have to step back into what was once familiar.

Growing up in Mexico, as the daughter of missionaries, I learned to speak conversational Spanish fluently. I remember the day it occurred to me that I could actually “think” in Spanish! I was so excited. Since moving back to the States, opportunities to speak and maintain my Spanish have diminished. I have found myself struggling in simple conversations to find the right vocabulary to express myself. Recently, I decided to start reading my Spanish bible instead of my English bible for my evening devotions. A simple change, but a step towards an old habit.

My nephew came to visit for Thanksgiving. He loves to draw, so we often found him with his drawing supplies and paper working on a new project. Hearing that my husband had once loved drawing, he asked his uncle to draw with him. We pulled out old sketch books, some dating back to high school, when my husband was in art classes and had been encouraged by teachers to pursue art as a career. He chose the military instead and his art fell to the side. We were reminded of the need to make a new resolution to revive his old habit of drawing. He definitely has a gift that is currently unused.

While it is hard work and requires great discipline to develop new habits, most of us have old habits or abilities we have abandoned. It does necessitate focus and commitment to revive them, but the muscle memory remains. Once I stepped onto the workout mat, my body remembered what to do. Once I started reading in Spanish nightly, vocabulary came flooding back. When my husband picked up the pencil, realistic sketches emerged on his paper.

So, what are some old habits you have abandoned or ignored? How can you revive them this year? Make a resolution to return to something you are already good at doing, something you enjoy, something God has gifted you to do to bless others! Happy New Year!

Jolene Erlacher

Author Jolene Erlacher

Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy of twin toddlers, author of Millennials in Ministry (Judson Press), speaker, and college instructor. In 2013, she founded Leading Tomorrow (www.leadingtomorrow.org) with the aim of equipping ministries and non-profit organizations for effective inter-generational leadership. Jolene lives in North Carolina, and enjoys reading and drinking coffee!

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