I read some time ago that new habits take 21 days to form. That’s if you do them every day. And you willingly do them.
I haven’t read anything about what happens when someone close to you takes on a new habit that you don’t like. Or a new habit that many are doing that will impact you and that you don’t like.
Based on what I see, it appears that when a new habit is done by someone else, or many someones, and a person doesn’t like – well, that person will resist. They will do what they can to slander the new habit in order to de-legitimize it. They will be stubborn in regards to the new habit. They will do what they can to protect the status quo and the beliefs that go with the status quo. And why? Usually it’s because the status quo benefits that person – or at least they think it does. So why change? The person will think they will lose what they have, rather than consider what might be gained.
I think this response really comes down to this – do we think we are in control? We resist that which shows us how much of a lack of control we really have – at least here in the West that is. We have been pumped with the idea that we are independent and self-reliant and that no one really has an impact on anyone else. While a nice idea on the surface, the pandemic is showing us that those ideas are simply not true. But this shouldn’t be a surprise really. Every time we have a crisis, the phrase “we’re all in this together” comes out – a direct contradiction of the very idea of independence and self-reliance.
I have seen some changes happen in the last three weeks. I have seen some cracks in the idea of partisan loyalty. Just small cracks so far. Hopeful cracks. I don’t expect everyone to change. Those that are pretty hard core left or right are not open to change, to seeing the world differently, to considering what’s best for everyone, to seeing the flaw in equating partisan political identification with our own identity. This post isn’t about them anyway. It’s for the others who are starting to see that loyalty to a political party or politician above all else is a recipe for disaster. It’s for those who are remembering that such die-hard loyalty isn’t healthy and never has been. It’s for those who recall that they are followers of Jesus and all he stands for first and foremost, not some political party or politician. It’s for those who are are realizing and remembering that what Jesus calls us to is not the same thing as what a political party or politician calls us to.
Substitute in any of the other idols that exist in our world in place of politics and politician and you have the same effect. Whether it be money, power, work, the economy, our addictions, or anything else that makes god-like claims on us and demands our loyalty. They are all same. And they all ultimately lead to disaster. And there are people who are waking up to this reality the longer this pandemic goes on.
I don’t argue that God brought on the pandemic. But I do argue that God works through such things regardless. The pandemic is an opportunity for us to let go of old habits and beliefs that are out of alignment with our faith and what it means to be a follower of Jesus and replace them with new habits that are based on values of the Kingdom of God, on Shalom, on Imago Dei.
Old habits die hard, especially when we resist them. While we can’t control what others will do, we are called to live in a new way – the way of Jesus.