On Habit

Habit has been in my thoughts lately. On Easter Sunday the Rev. R. Leigh Spruill preached on “Remembering the Resurrection”. He told the story of how even after a pothole is fixed, he continues to swerve his car at the very spot. After awhile things become habit; we may not even remember why we starting doing it in the first place.

But what if our habits are misplaced?

I’ve just started James K. A. Smith’s new book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit and he opens with the question that Jesus asked, “What do you want?”

Smith continues, “To be human is to be on the move, pursuing something, after something….We are not just static containers for ideas; we are dynamic creatures directed towards some end.” As Smith and others explain, we all worship something whether it be a higher power, a love of power, or the acquisition of more things. As humans, we must have an idol that fulfills our need to be pursuing something, anything. We are what we love.

Smith reminds us that Jesus doesn’t ask, “What do you know?” or even “What do you believe?”, but instead he asks “What do you want?” or expressed another way, “What do you love?”

Smith pictures an alternative model of the human person. Rather than being just a “thinking” object, “brains on a stick”, Smith contends that the center of gravity of our identity is actually our heart, in the visceral regions of our longings and desires. Smith warns that “love takes practice”.

Smith quotes Geoff Dyer from his book about the film, Zona: “Your deepest desire is the one manifested by your daily life and habits. This is because our action—our doing bubbles up from our loves, which, as we’ve observed, are habits we’ve acquired through the practices we’re immersed in.”

I think there is a connection. I want to recognize that the pothole has been fixed, but when Jesus asks, “What do you want?” I want to be ready with an answer that comes not from my head, but from my heart: “I want to follow You.”

How can I develop habits so it becomes second nature for me to love others as Jesus loves me?

Blessings, my friend,