HACK YOUR HABITS:
FOCUS ON WHAT I DO FIRST
by Tyler Pieper
I love that Pastor Jesse declares just how much he loves this time of year, especially the aroma of intentionality in the air. We’re just coming down from riding the miracle wave of Christmas, and the hope for a brighter year ahead has never been more potent. You can’t argue it: the new year propels a desire for change.
If I’m keeping it one-hundred percent real with you, I didn’t want to be the “New Years Resolution” guy again. Most of us don’t even carry the right motives when we set these goals anyway, and really, the entirety of the goal-setting culture usually isn’t my thing. It’s probably because it’s never worked for me.
So, I refused. I just wasn’t going to do it like I’ve always done it.
Funnily enough, I came to this conclusion already in October. Largely, I’ve been disappointed in myself year after year. I still knew, however, the things in my life that needed to see true change. I was hyper-aware of these things at all times. Not ironically, they’re the same things that I’ve been wanting to see change in for the better part of a decade now.
Am I the only one who has found this to be such an exhausting way to live?
I realized very quickly that thinking about all of this in the fall was my first clue for just how fed up I really was. Obviously, the pressure of the New Year was weighing on me if I was considering these things while the leaves were still orange. It had to be different this time. Pondering this so early in 2018 was the start of some major habitual renovation.
These uphill hopes were about to turn into uphill habits!
I’ve been up and down in my weight since I was a teenager. I’m tall man by design so the extra pounds have been easier for me to hide than it is for others, but as I grow older, I also grow tired of hiding my secret sin, and so does my body. My secret sin makes it’s way to a more evident surface year after year. I’ve battled profusely with binge eating, and though technically undiagnosed, it doesn’t take a doctor’s note for a monster like this to technically wreck your life. This usually partners itself with depression or emotionally-charged void-filling, often triggered by perceived rejection and areas of my life that I’ve let fear prevail. It was not uncommon for me to lock myself in my bedroom for days, surrounded by my favorite foods, leaving only to use the bathroom or go to work. Even then, I so looked forward to having a few days off in a row so I could curl back up into my shell and commit to nothing other than my own downhill slope.
But looking at it now, from a much healthier place, it has disguised itself with many masks over the years. It’s lead to social anxieties and stagnant vision in life, it’s convinced me to stay home alone instead of building relationships, and it’s caused me to kill my dreams and settle for a life of mediocrity. Most of all- it has slowly destroyed my body in such a way that I became too embarrassed to be anywhere that my little world might come unraveled and be exposed.
I partnered with the enemy to build my soul a cage of shame! Bondage.
In case it isn’t clear to you, my poor relationship with food has hindered me from believing in and grabbing a hold of God’s best for my life. I have missed a thousand beautiful opportunities. So let me tell you that everything changed when I recognized that these missed opportunities, this missed life, wasn’t just a result of my affair with food. Because truly, if it were caused by food, I would still continue in my patterns but only hate myself more for eating! How sick is that?
This is not about food at all, and no, it’s not even about emotion.
It’s about habits.
My hope for the future was not matching up with my habits.
My habit was to respond to my everyday life, emotion, and flesh by numbing it with food, and because that wasn’t enough (it would never be enough), I’d need more food to fill the void that trying to fill my soul with food would leave. It’s twisted, and though I didn’t have this series of talks to help me navigate through the beginning stages of this change in my life, they’re here now to help propel forward a work that the Lord has already started.
3 Things you need to HACK YOUR HABITS:
Hope for the future
There is always a promised, brighter future ahead.
Leave some things behind
You can’t move into tomorrow while carrying baggage from yesterday.
Build new habits
HACK #1: Focus On What I Do First!
Who or what is first in my life? Food? Jesus? I’ve had to work lovingly to dethrone what Pastor Jentezen Franklin refers to as “King Stomach.” (His book, Fasting, is a great resource for those joining us in these 21 days of prayer and fasting at My City)
If God is not first place in your life, He is not the Lord of your life.
Put God First.
Give God the first of everything.
Give God the first part of your year.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where your loyalty lies, check your bank statement. It’s a foolproof way to find out exactly what it is that you worship. It was not uncommon for me to spend more than 30 dollars a day on my binging. As a courtesy, I’ll do the math for you: that adds up to over $10,000 dollars a year. Is it a wonder that this thing was controlling my life in more ways than one?
As each day passes, it’s a choice for me to let His light shine in the shadows of all the areas I left Him out of for the last ten years. I started this year by breaking my habit of making and breaking New Years resolutions. My ways weren’t working.
In putting Him first, on His timeline out of my control, I have seen fruit and provision and victory. This not only means giving him the first part of my day, but giving Him the first opportunity to console me when I feel desperate; the first chance at holding me closely when I feel like I’m falling apart, and the first and only voice I listen to when He tells me how loved I am.
Focus on what you do… first.
Romans 12 The Message (MSG)
Place Your Life Before God
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.