Jackson Five Friday: The Importance of Habits

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We drove home from Florida today where we spent six fabulous days at the beach. I love mountains and skiing. I love seeing new places, but Palm Beach County is the place I have vacationed the most, and the flood of memories coupled with my own family splashing in and loving that same turquoise water means it’s pretty much a slice of paradise.

We arrived Friday evening, hit Publix for groceries and subs, and looked forward to dipping ourselves in the ocean the next morning. Some time that day Sam asked, seemingly out of the blue, “What day is it?”

When I told him, he said, “So we aren’t going to church tomorrow then?”

It seemed a fair question. “I don’t know,” I said.

He asked a few more times about it, but mostly we were at the beach and I didn’t think much of it.

The next morning was Sunday and I was sitting out on the balcony when my husband Will came out, looking concerned and a little bewildered.

“I told Sam we aren’t going to church,” he said. “He got all emotional. Now he’s shut himself in the bedroom. You better go see him.”

I laughed a little, but Will wasn’t amused. His heart breaks easily for Sam. Will’s soft spot for this third son is rather large. I think it encompasses his whole heart, and then some.

And the pieces of the Sammy puzzle can be so fragmented, but a lightbulb went off for me — Sam had asked about church repeatedly because he was anxious about us deviating from our habit. We often, but not always, go to church on vacation and we almost never miss at home,  We aren’t legalistic about it or make a big issue out off missing. Yet somehow skipping church for the beach felt wrong to Sam. Yes, this child is as unpredictable as can be. The Sunday before he mocked the responsive “Thanks be to God,” and on Christmas Eve he tried to lip sync along with an operetta-solo version of The First Noel.

Nevertheless Will and I decided to throw ourselves together and march our butts to church, just across the bridge from where we were staying. We heard a lovely sermon and our attendance was somehow a balm for Sam’s eggshell psyche. He smiled through church not because he particularly enjoyed it but evidently because we were there.

As I’ve written many times before this child of mine is an enigma. Yet in a sense I can relate maybe a tiny bit. I’m not a very disciplined person, which means habits take on even more importance. If I’m on a streak of daily exercise or daily Bible study and I miss a day that feels discouraging to me. Since I’m not naturally disciplined small setbacks tend to have a bigger impact than they should.  Maybe that’s how Sam felt.  Or maybe Sam is more of a Bible scholar than I thought.

Because the verse that is the namesake of this blog is Hebrews 10:24, but look at Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In this brand new year, may we encourage one another, spurring one another on, and let us not give up meeting together.  I am praying for more godly habits and discipline, for grace when I fail, and for protection — for both Sam and me — from discouragement over minor or perceived setbacks!

And praying too that you will have a fabulous 2015!

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