“If you were really sorry, you would never do that again!” Has someone ever said that to you? Or have you ever said to yourself, if I were really sorry, I would never do that again! In many ways, I’ve vowed that I would not make the same mistake and then stumbled in the same old way. I wish this were not true. 

Last week I volunteered to help a neighbor who is moving pack her boxes. Then, I got busy with other things. My husband and I made a decision that required unexpected time and energy. Consequently, I forgot about the promise I’d made to my neighbor.

My husband also made a promise to our neighbor. When she appeared at my door on Monday morning to receive the help he had promised, he came through with it. I asked her if she needed help with her packing. “No,” she said,” I’ve finished. I only need help to move the larger things. “

I felt sorry that I had not provided the help that I’d earlier promised. I scolded myself for not keeping a commitment that I’d made. And I realized, once again, I’d made a promise and not kept it.

How can I break this habit? How can I change any unhealthy pattern of behavior?
These are some of my choices:

1. A) I can live in denial, pretending there’s no problem, or
    B) I can honestly look at how my behavior pattern affects others, as well as myself.

2. A) I can live in regret, allowing a condemning conscience to beat me up, or
    B) I can humbly confess my failure and accept forgiveness.

3. A) I can demand instant and complete perfection, telling myself I will never do that, again, or
    B) I can recognize that change is a process and find out what that process involves.

4. A)  I can blame my failure on circumstances, the devil or others, or
    B)I can accept responsibility for making changes in my life and learn what the causes are.

5. A) I can place total reliance on my ability to change, or
    B) I can admit that I need the help of a power higher than myself and rely on my Creator.

6. A) I can struggle with the same old problem year after year, or
    B) I can secure accountability that will help me address the issues that lie behind my destructive habit, give me encouragement, and rejoice with me over victories I gain. 

7. A) I can focus so much on my performance (am I making the right choices?) that I’m consumed with worry, or
    B) I can focus primarily on who God is, trust in his power to transform me and rest in his grace.  

In regard to choice number 7, I  quit worrying about my performance when my neighbor said, “you are the best neighbor I’ve ever had.” 

Sometimes, the “A” choices that I’ve listed attract me. They’re the default mode of operation of the sin-nature. They feel so right. Why would I want to make the more difficult and less attractive “B” choices?

This is my motivation: “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 4:11 NLT).

I want more of the peace that comes from right living. I want to feel sorry less often. My intention this week is to make more “B” choices than “A” choices. I hope that you will join me. 

Questions for reflection:

1. Which “B” choice is most challenging for you?

2. Which “A” choice do you make most often?

3. What other “A” and “B” choices do you have to suggest?

4 Responses

  1. Hi Jane -2A and 7A are my default modes. Thanks for flushing these out – both the unhealthy behaviors and the healthy choices!
    I am learning more as I get older (although I have a long way to go) now not to overcommit – or to make promises. Both can turn out to be disastrous for me since I rarely know from day to day what my pain and energy level will allow. Instead I am working on being more realistic about what I can do before I commit and I always give myself some grace by telling whoever that I will do it or help them if at all possible.

    1. Hi Terry, Thank you for making yourself vulnerable by sharing your default modes. It sounds as if you’ve learned to give to yourself grace, as well as to others. Health issues make things more challenging, doesn’t it! For me, choices 7A and 7B relate to the difference between legalism and grace. Legalism is my default mode. Grace is such a relief to my soul.

  2. Great write Jane, thank you!

    I’ll answer the Q’s:

    6B is the hardest choice for me – engaging others in my struggle.

    2A is my most common entrapment- wallowing in self-condemnation.

    They’re quite the dynamic duo!

    1. Thank you, Kim! I can relate. I find it scary to tell others about my struggle. Even more so as I’ve gotten older. I tell myself “I should know better by now”. Today, God gave me the courage to share with someone younger that I have the same struggle that she does. My friend responded with empathy and grace. We moved closer in our friendship.

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