Long ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because it seemed that before the first month of the year had passed, I had broken my resolutions and returned to my old ways. Experts tell us it takes three weeks to break a habit. While it may be true that it takes three weeks to stop a destructive pattern in a physical sense, it takes much longer to stop the false belief system, which is the root cause of it. Mental health therapists tell us that people treated for and freed from an addiction will readily transfer one addiction for a different one if their basic belief system is not altered.
To make a lasting change, I must admit there is a problem; discover what God says about it in His Word, desire to change; ask God for help; stop the habit; renew my thinking process and belief system; and fill the time and space taken up by that habit with a Godly thought or action.
For example, if I want contentment and joy to fill the areas where I am complaining I must first face the fact that complaining is a sin. I must have a strong desire to change because I know that it is not pleasing to God. Most likely, I will discover that complaining is embedded so deeply in me that I am not even consciously aware of all the subtle ways I complain. Therefore, I will need help from the Holy Spirit to point these areas out to me. Then, every time I complain, I must ask God to forgive me and then I might list something for which I am thankful to fill that time and space with a Godly thought or action.
One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, began writing a blog listing ordinary things for which she was thankful. The blog turned into a book, One Thousand Gifts. This led to a second book, One Thousand Gifts Devotional.
In her second book, Ann writes the following:
“A friend dared me to start counting one thousand things I loved. I took the dare, accepted the challenge, kept track of one thousand things, one thousand gifts – one thousand graces – on a quiet, unassuming blog. Before I knew it, thankfulness to God began to fully change me.”
Anne’s two books are most inspiring, but the greatest miracle that emerged from her exercise in thankfulness was the ushering of God’s marvelous grace into her life. By listing one thousand things she was thankful for, God flooded Ann with gratitude and it fully transformed her. God’s grace is most evident in changed lives, hearts turned toward their Creator, and bad habits and thinking patterns transformed into Godly thoughts and actions.