"You are what you eat" - how many times have we heard that statement? It is typically used to remind people that you want to watch the quality of the food you consume; avoid dyes, toxins, sugar. *throws away my candy wrappers somewhat guiltily but quite contentedly* But I believe it's just as important to watch what we feed our minds and form into habits.
Just like it's easier to grab some junk food then to make a meal, it's much easier to slip into bad habits or wrong thinking than it is to reach for what is "noble, right and pure". These habits are things we don't even think about - we just do them, whether we would agree with them or not if we stopped to think, because it happens so fast. We find ourselves thinking, "whoops; I shouldn't do that again." But without something to direct us away from it, it rarely works; we find ourselves doing it again and again.
One suggestion I have heard and used at times has been, when you find yourself doing or saying something that you shouldn't, to recite a bible verse - one you have chosen and memorized beforehand specifically to remind you of why you are trying to break this habit.
This can be a slow and discouraging process, but it does help. Instead of just noticing when you fall, you are noticing and correcting, and this helps re-train your mind through repitition. Slowly, you will begin to notice that, as your mind is renewed, you stumble less and less.
Abbi has recently been doing something similar. Abbi lives life fast paced; she is always running, hurrying, in the thick of the most action, excited and exuberant. This can sometimes be a danger to people, including herself. She's probably taken a tumble down the stairs more times than the rest of the family put together! Mama has asked her countless times to please, please not run on the stairs, so she doesn't injure herself, but Abbi just couldn't remember to slow down; there is so much to do! So she decided that whenever she found herself running down the stairs, she would make herself go back to the top and walk down. And you know what? After a few weeks, she had to turn around less and less, and it's been quite a while since we heard one of her formerly quite recent tumbles!
Breaking a habit or thought pattern requires replacing it with something. Just like saying "no" to a food you usually eat that isn't very good for you doesn't mean you skip a meal, it is helpful to find something to replace your thoughts or activites. This is why, when I am discouraged or rushed, I like to try to sit down and read the bible or a book that encourages living for Christ. It's also why, when I take a break from being online, I usually put together a list of extra things to get done. I am replacing those habits with something more in line with my goals :).
Eventually, those replacements will become what you desire. It will still take "feeding" to remain healthy, but you will find them more satisfying and refreshing, and won't be as often tempted to reach for lesser things. It had been interesting lately, because my Mama was going through a christian history book with my younger siblings lately, and it's obvious how the Lord has renewed her mind through her diligent searching out of His truth. The book has wrong theology sprinkled all through it, but as a young christian, she didn't even know it was wrong theology when she first read it to me when I was their age. Now, she has so steeped herself in God's word and godly teaching (and, by God's mercy, been given "eyes to see"), that it is a struggle for her to realize that this was the christian history we once read and excepted!
Of course, as everything else in a believer's life, it all goes back to honoring our Heavenly Father. We don't read the bible to have an easier time or be better people; we read it to understand more of Him, to serve Him better, to have the tools to share His light with those He places in our pathes. In all that we face and question, God has given us His standard in His holy scriptures, and they are always the first thing we should turn to in dificult situations, but we should also be dwelling in it continually, to prepare ourselves before the battle.
Sometimes, you might not feel like reading; you might feel too tired, or distracted, you might think you will get more out of it at a later time, you may even feel guilty reading God's word without being "perfect" at it, and you may want to let this discourage you; But one thing I have found to be true is that this is the very time you must come to the throne in prayer and scripture reading! Ask God to give you a heart soft to His word, and then just read. While you may not feel like you are retaining much, you are whetting your appetite for it, and you will find yourself craving it more and more! This has been on my mind frequently recently, as my family and I have been doing a bible study online with thousands of others - a reading through of the bible that is described as "feasting", where we are frequently told to "come to the table and eat". And I love that!
So watch what you eat - spiritually! Find an accountability partner if it helps, set aside a time that you can make it a priority, find ways to incorporate the word of God into your daily life... you are what you eat!
Rejoicing in Hope,