The Habits that Make all the Others Possible

When I told her that a habit is something that you wear, I felt it, how I caught on something, snagged.

For days, I unravel.

Forget figuring out how to form a habit. I’m not there yet. First, what are the few habits worth wearing? You can only layer so much.

We put away the Christmas tree, box up the Jesse Tree ornaments, leave the infant in a manger figurine out on the mantle as a reminder that we wanted Him to not only make an obligatory appearance but to actually take up permanent residence. Come dwell with us, Emmanuel, God with us and the burnt pots and sticky walls and muddy snow puddles at the back door. The state of my space doesn’t mirror the state of my soul and Christ Himself was born in a barn. I finger the figurine of the infant swaddled. Maybe the only fabric I need to wear is what Jesus wore?

Maybe the only habit I need to wear is just this — a one-piece life?

It was Jewish tradition, what all Jewish mothers give to their sons when they left home: a robe without seams.

A one-piece. No fragmenting. No tearing. No seams.

It’s what Jesus wore to the cross:

Now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They said therefore to one another, ‘Let us not tear it…’ (Jn 19:23).

The habit of Christ was the holiness of Christ, a life with no seams between secular and sacred. The habit Christ wore was a one-piece life —- all is hallowed and for God. Can I figure out how to fit into that habit? Do I want to?

So this is how it goes: I try to weave the fabric of this year with the thread of first things first.

Habit #1: Commit His Word to heart

So I make a commitment to memorize Colossians, committing heart to Him and His Word to heart. I place the booklet on the kitchen table. I pick it up to three times a day when I wipe the crumbs off. I read the verses again, clean a bit more of grit. While wiping off the splattered stove, the mess drippled down the cupboard front, I murmur “Verse 3: We thank God always… “ I try. It does take weeks of wearing a habit before it becomes you. A friend sends me this in early January when I wonder what I’ve got myself into and everything feels uncomfortable and tight:

This practice of memorizing the Scriptures is more important than a daily quiet time, for as we fill our minds with these great passages and have them available for our meditation, “quiet time” takes over the entirety of our lives.

God’s word to Joshua, as he undertook the great task before him, was, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8, NASB)….

But how does the law get in your mouth? By memorization, of course. It becomes an essential part of how we think about everything else as we dwell on it…This is the true education for ministry and for life.” ~Dallas Willard

And I think, this is the right first thread to weave a right life habit. I stumble over whether it’s Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ in verse four of Colossians 1 but I keep tugging on this one string, saying words aloud wherever I am, doing whatever it is I do, because turning His Word over in my mind all the time does make all time worship. He is worthy of all our time. His Word in my mouth and on my mind and under my skin, might this just reshape this body of dust so that the habit of a one-piece life might be me?

When the mailman comes to the back door, I have to push back a pile of laundry in the middle of the mudroom floor to get the door open. By lunch, the kids seemed to have used every paper, book and pencil in the house and forgotten to take it with them, and the counters look like a yard sale gone all wrong. Why does it take me five pots, a whole pantry of spices and four 9 by 13 dishes to make one mediocre meal? The memory work comes again. I can feel the habit that I’m wearing against my skin: “We thank God always…”




I do the next thing and begin picking up what is everywhere, the leftover peelings of bandages, the balloons one little girl keeps blowing up everywhere, one of her hair bows. I realize: One day and soon, I will not be gathering up bandage, balloons, bows. Bandages. Balloons. Bows. I laugh happy! All this glorious mess! We’re here! A house reflects the pursuit of living!


It’s only wearing the habit of His Word that gives me eyes to rightly see, rightly walk, through His World.

All afternoon, I feel it along the hems, all these wrinkles. I confess: I am worried about my life, like what I will make for us to eat , and about my body and how to do it all and the seams on the squares on my calendar bulge shiny tight, and what habits I will wear to get me through and well? Is not life more than stresses and why do I worry about clothes and habits and how in the world does worry add any good to this one life? So why worry? Consider the lilies. They do not labor long or spin crazy and not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed in habits like one of these.

I think He’s just handed me the next thread.

Habit #2: Consider the lilies.

Look for bows. See beauty.




In the midst of the fields of worries, look, see, find, but do more. Consider. Pause and stay long seeing, until the beauty comes up through everything. Wear the habit of seeking beauty. How is life bearable without seeing beauty? What is any other habit worth without the habit of seeing beauty? I put away books and kids gather papers. Lilies grow from a bulb hidden in the ground; beauty is often buried and we’ll have to believe.

I load the dishwasher again. A washing machine does the toiling and spinning here. A candle flickers right in the center of it all because a wick always whispers pay attention to the holy here. There are children in this place and there is hope and there are prayers buried under it all. There are lilies unfurling deep and everywhere. Seeking first the kindgom of God comes only after first considering the lilies.

It’s late when I feel it. How the hems of this habit feel smoother now. I have stopped trying to control the details of my life. I am simply contemplating the Divine in the details. Because life is not a thing to be wrestled with, subdued and conquered; life’s a beauty to be considered. God didn’t say control the landscape, but to consider long the lilies.

Before bed, we light the whole mantle, the flames laying petal shadows long up along the wall.


“Will you share the blanket?”  One more of the boys crawls in under the couch’s lap quilt.

“Aren’t all the candles beautiful, Mama?” A boy whispers it in my ear.

I nod a smile, lilies everywhere, and I feel along the stitches of the quilt under the fabric of a one-piece life, looking for him.

And I find His hand.



{To Begin Habit #1 : Commit heart to Him and His Word to Heart: Join us memorizing Colossians
The post to Print out the Colossians in Year: Just 2 Verses a Week Booklet
Group Facebook page (and encouragement! and other versions!) here}

Source: The Wood “Joy to See God’s Goodness” Pedestal

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Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.

To read the entire series of spiritual practices

Next Week: The Practice of Making a Habit What are your new habits for 2011 and how are you making them happen? We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….

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