Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More about habits

As I was walking Percy, my dog, I was thinking about how he has changed my life. He became part of our family last October - almost a year ago. Since we got him I have gone for a walk at least once every day - usually more than once. Percy loves to walk. It doesn't matter to him what the temperature is outside. Once or twice he hasn't wanted to go out in the rain, but mostly he just wants to go. And so we go.
I could say that walking has become a habit.
But that isn't exactly true. Why? Because if Percy didn't beg me to walk with him each day, I wouldn't be walking. I'd like to think I would - but really, if it's cold out or windy or if I'm tired or if there's something good on TV or if I'm reading a good book or for just about any other reason, I'd forget the walk and stay home. I know that walking is good for me. I know that I've lost weight and that I'm healthier because I'm walking. But it's not my nature to be physically active. I'm just being honest.
So here's how this relates to habits. I need to have an accountability partner - even if it's a dog. I need someone to help me maintain my good habits. I need encouragement to keep going.
Isn't that true in our spiritual lives as well? We need someone to encourage us, to remind us, to ask us how we're doing with our spiritual disciplines. Sometimes we even need someone to walk with us. Someone to show us how to have holy habits.
That's why we need to be part of a community of believers, so others can help us and we can help them.