Mar 10, 2010

Is any habit a good habit?

I woke up this morning when my husband returned from the YMCA. (Yes, he's much more diligent about working out than I am. However, I am committed to getting in 10-12 miles of running each week, no matter what.)

As I scurried to get his breakfast and to-go lunch ready, I mused about my morning routine and ritual. Mine varies from day to day: if I work out, my day starts around 5:20. The entire routine involves running, followed by coffee, popping into work for a few minutes, cooking (or heating up) some breakfast and packing a lunch for my commuter counterpart, and grabbing a shower. Most of the year, I'm showered, dressed and ready to hit the carpool circuit by 8:00. Summers are a little less structured, but there's still a definite routine (and it definitely involves coffee.)

Now, if I don't work out, my day starts at 6:30, and by 8:00 I'm caffeinated, showered, dressed and ready...hmmm. A creature of habit? Definitely.

It made me wonder: are habits good? Or bad? Obviously, some habits are nasty (juvenile nosepicking, for instance) and some are risky and injurious to your health. So there are indeed "bad" habits.

Are there good habits? We often encourage our fellow Christians to "get in the habit" of attending worship, reading the Bible, praying, meditating, etc. And without a doubt, those activities exercise our spiritual muscles, and are good for us to do on a very regular basis. But...should attending worship be a habit? Something I do mechanically, without thinking twice about it? Don't get me wrong - I don't ever want to wrestle with the decision on whether or not to serve God this day or any other.

But I'm not sure it's healthy to allow our spiritual life to become a matter of mindless routine (aka a "habit"). I want it to always be a conscious - and joyful - choice to put God first in my life, to look for ways to serve Him and others as I go about my day, to communicate with Him frequently in study, prayer and meditation. And most of all to to worship Him with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul. I don't want that to become a ritual or a habit - I want to experience it fully every time. I think I'll ask God to make me less a creature of habit. (Although the coffee is pretty important, maybe even non-negotiable.)