Back in April Tim threw out a pair of Kordan’s old running shoes. They were in bad shape. The kind that make you wonder, ‘where are that child’s parents?’ when you see them on another child.
Kordan, not ready to part with his shoes, reclaimed them from the top of the garbage and continued to wear them. Almost daily they were his shoes of choice, even though he had better ones to choose from.
On Friday, after school was out for the summer, Tim informed Kordan that his shoes were going to be tossed and they were not coming back. It wasn’t up for discussion
Kordan studied them a bit, before trying to negotiate and convince his daddy that they still had some miles left in them. They got tossed.
Old shoes, old t-shirts, old underwear…. There is something familiar and comfortable about clothes that know our body, clothes that fit. Even if they are worn out, ‘holey’ and less than attractive.
Habits we form can be like that. Sometimes they start out as good habits—or at least with good intentions—much like brand new shoes. Other times they’re not even good to start, more like a pair of used shoes we might find at a second-hand store.
With time we become familiar in our habits, oblivious to the fact that they no longer serve their purpose, if they ever had one. We don’t realize that we would be better to develop new ones to replace the old.
We all have blind spots, and the more our weaknesses link to our habits, the less likely that we will recognize them on our own. Sometimes we need help to see through it.
Recently, while chatting with a group of wives, one of them commented how her husband and sons wear their underwear until there’s nothing left but threads. Is this a male thing? (I have a husband and three boys…)
That discussion reminded me of adjusting to this part of marriage…. and doing my husband’s laundry. Week after week, I would wash the same t-shirts and underwear, and week after week they became more threadbare. I washed, folded and popped them in Tim’s drawer, expecting that one day he would notice and throw them out. Since they were his clothes I thought it inappropriate for me to do it. But he continued wearing them, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were wearing out.
When one pair of underwear was barely attached at the crotch—having almost turned into a mini-skirt—I decided to take matters into my own hands. I got a scissors and cut the final threads, then neatly folded them and slipped them into Tim’s drawer, expecting a good laugh in a few days.
I waited, thinking he would try them on one morning, only to discover a super-short skirt, and playfully scold me for my warped sense of humour. He never did.
I had waited patiently for a few days before I checked his drawer and the altered underwear were gone. That evening I asked Tim if he had found them.
Unfazed, he nodded with a chuckle and shrugged, “I just presumed they had worn through, so I threw them out.”
It’s much like that with bad habits. Even if we’re not aware that they’re not good for us, that something isn’t quite right, it’s easy to overlook how bad things are.
With old shoes, t-shirts and underwear, nothing too life-shattering will happen if they rip or tear. Our pride might be a bit bent out of shape, but that’s not the end of the world.
Our habits, on the other hand, impact us, and all those around us. They have the potential to destroy relationships, lives and leave us feeling exposed and naked, if they get out of control.
If we have friends in our lives who love us enough to help us see the truth, and protect us from ourselves, we are truly blessed. And if we’ll hear them, and take it to heart, we are wise, and better for it.
Overcoming bad habits takes time and dedication. Like Kordan and his old shoes, you may be tempted to go back to the trash, and reach for them. They’re comfortable. Each time you’re tempted, but choose instead to develop a new good habit, you will become stronger.
That said… it’s time for my walk. It’s a new habit I picked up a little while ago. Consistency and intentionality make all the difference in successfully adopting new good habits.
© Trudy Metzger 2012
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