Forming and Breaking Habits

I recently went to a conference and used that time to form a number of habits that I was putting off. I worked out every morning, I took walks during the lunch break, I actually took a lunch break, etc. In the time since, I have struggled with keeping some of the habits I attempted to form, but it has given me insight into my own intention versus performance” paradigm. I have come to better understand what drives me to start something and what keeps me interested in completing or continuing it.

Last year, I intended to write an autobiographical novel, entitled Pastor’s Kid, during the month of November as part of NaNoWriMo, whereby participants race to write 50,000 words with the understanding that just getting started is among the hardest parts of writing. Suffice it to say, I did not stick with it. The Ulysses group that housed the novel has a general outline and about 2,000 words of content. I have not looked back, though the idea is still a good one in my mind and worth revisiting at some point.

This year, I am not officially participating in NaNoWriMo, but I would like to participate in another form. Similar to Ben Brooks’s endeavor two years ago, I would like to write 50,000 words or more in blog form. However, that challenge and goal is not what drives me because the intent is more about forming a writing habit than in getting to a rather arbitrary word-count-based end result.

As I was saying above, I now have a better understanding of myself in how I form and break habits. For instance, I am a nail biter. I say that in the present tense, but I can say that I have not bitten my nails in almost three weeks. Historically, I have stopped only to pick the terrible habit back up again. No matter how many times I have stopped biting my nails, even with moderate success, I have always returned. I will likely always consider myself a nail biter because the impulse will likely never go away.

To be frank, the thing that drives me to break this habit is friends and family, who have tried to help me break the habit in the past. There was always a focus on getting down to why and changing that, but the reason I bite my nails could not be further from my concerns because it is the habit that I would like to break, not some other unknown reason for the habit. I believe it unlikely that I will change something in my life so drastically that suddenly a habit from my preteen years would simply go away.

I have many other habits that I would prefer not to have and some that I would prefer to instill in their place. But the drive is what often alludes me (and I am sure many others), which is why using time away from my daily routine (the aforementioned conference) was a good testbed for trying to find that drive.

I am going to take a different tack, however, in approaching this habit. Each day, I will write under the tag NaNoWriMo” and Ulysses will tell me how far I come. I will update each post with the total number of words written at the end. I will not reach 50,000, but I hope that I am able to write something each day. Consider this post as November 1”, even though I am publishing on the November 2.


Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.