I’m going to let you in on a secret . . . I have had a really embarrassing bad habit for many years. It’s one that is so disgusting and perhaps dysfunctional that I hate to even talk about it. In fact, it is so rare that I don’t think there’s a name or category for it other than it might be considered compulsive, and oh so dirty. Now if there were any way to avoid this humiliation I would, but for the sake of your enlightenment, I feel it is necessary to bare my soul. So here goes . . . I . . . compulsively . . . collect . . . dirty . . . Kleenexes.
I told you it was strange! You see this disgusting and rather annoying habit, especially in my husband’s opinion, goes all the way back to my childhood. First of all, you have to know that my dad was a huge penny pincher. And one day he found me being frivolous with a tissue I had just sneezed into by actually throwing it away after just one blow! That’s when I remember him jumping into thrifty thumping mode! He reprimanded me for being so wasteful with my dirty tissue, and in so doing, set into motion a bad habit that hounded me decade after decade until just a few years ago.
Understandably, my husband had a gut reaction to all the tissues I would leave on my nightstand or on my side of the bathroom sink. In a phrase, they “grossed him out.” I never even thought about it when I brought that nasty old habit into my marriage. I just thought everyone saved their dirty tissues for another blow or two. Besides I thought I was fulfilling my father’s grand commission to save the earth, save a penny, save the snot! Look at that! I was going green, in more ways than one, before it was even fashionable!
The bottom line was that I felt like I was doing my daughterly duty! But marriage has a way of opening our eyes to habits we would have never sneezed at before. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) At some point, I woke up to the reality of just how demented and sick my habit really was. I saw it in all of its ugliness and I felt like a woman of unclean wipes.
Fortunately, keeping my dirty tissues hasn’t been such a tough habit to kick. I don’t really get any huge pay-off from hanging onto those crumpled snot-rags. Pardon just one more pun, but it’s been no skin off my nose!
Let’s get serious. Many bad habits are devastatingly difficult to shake. In fact, the problem with bad habits is that they usually get worse over time, often degenerating into a compulsion or worse, an addiction. So what should you do to deal with them? Below are some steps you could take that would be a good starting and continuing point:
- Honestly admit your lack of control to God and others – Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4:7 and v. 10, 1st John 1:9
- Submit to God’s control – James 4:7, Luke 22:40 and 22:46, Matthew 14:38
- Confess and repent of your sin continually – James 4:8-10, Isaiah 55:7, Psalm 34:18 and 51:17
- Evaluate and work through any unfinished business in your life that keeps you stuck – James 1:19 – 20, Matthew 5:23, Psalm 139:23, Proverbs 25:2, Jeremiah 17:10, I Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 7:9, 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Hebrews 12:1-3
- Daily take thoughts captive – Joshua 1:8, Job 4:8, Ps. 63:6, Proverbs 22:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Galatians 6:8, Philippians 2:5
- Structure your life to support new habits – Exodus 34:12, Joshua 23:13, Proverbs 22:25, I Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 4:14, Ephesians 6:13
- Fill the void – Ezekiel 36:26, John 12:24-25, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 5:15 – 20, Philippians 3:7-14 and 4:4-8, 2 Peter 1:3-8
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11 (NLT)