Patterns of Life

Every morning I walk into the office and turn on my computer. Then I go and dump yesterday’s coffee grounds in the yard, fill the carafe with water, and start today’s coffee.

For some reason, a couple of mornings this radical thought crossed my mind. What if I emptied the grounds the same day the coffee was made, and, perhaps (gulp) even filled the carafe for the next morning. I could have coffee ready with several fewer motions in the morning and we would all love that.

The management lobe of my brain went to work. Admittedly, this lobe is underdeveloped in my brain. Even I, though, quickly realized that after one day of doing more than usual with regard to coffee making, each day thereafter would include the same set of tasks, just not in the same order or at the same schedule they are currently accomplished.

The anti-change synapses in my head started firing at this point.  That’s not the way we’re used to doing it.  You can’t do that; you’re comfortable with the way things are right now! They taunted me.  This, surely, would be change I could believe in, but could I make it happen?

It obviously isn’t about the amount of work it takes; that remains the same.  The challenge for me and for many of us when confronted with such change is as simple and straightforward as establishing a different pattern of behaviors.

This morning, as I walked in and saw the coffe maker, I thought, “Oh, yeah, I was going to start enptying the grounds and refilling the water in the afternoon….”

We are fast approaching the season of Lent, a time of year when Christians have traditionally taken on some new discipline or let go of some unecessary practice.  While changing the way I deal with coffee making is hardly a matter of Christian Perfection, if I can make this simple change of behaviors, and perhaps some others like it, I can, in fact, make real and lasting changes in my own behavior.

That is a large part of what this thing we call following Jesus is about, isn’t it?

Maybe you’ll help me.  When you see me, ask me how I’m doing with my new way of making coffee.

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2 thoughts on “Patterns of Life

  1. Of course I remain optimistic about your ability to change — IF you get into psychotherapy, of course. We CAN work on your propensity to make coffee the same old way automatically, you know.

    The good news is, contrary to what we used to think about the plasticity of the brain, we now know that the human brain remains plastic throughout the lifespan. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Of course, Jesus knew that long ago.

    You just need to make new synapses, and to strengthen relevant old ones. That requires attention and concentration. So, considering the attention/concentration requirement, it really IS more work to change than to do things the same old way.

    Michael Mahoney said that we all have “core ordering processes” — revolving around the themes of “value”, “reality (or meaning)”, “personal identity”, and “power (or control).” Although it is often in these areas that we need MOST to change, Mahoney asserts (and I agree with him) that these “core ordering processes” are given special protection from change — because they go to the essence of our lives.

    And that’s where Mahoney and I separate — he drifted spiritually (despite some extraordinary levels of insight), and I rejoice that in Christ, we can safely and with joy give up those core ordering processes to the Lordship of Christ. We can trust Him with the core of ourselves.

    Too bad that some of us are content with a one-time touch on our core ordering processes (at baptism or confirmation or the time of conversion), and don’t go on to know the freedom and joy of allowing Him to touch us again and again, enabling us to move out of old and uncomfortable patterns that enslave us.

    I have to admit that there are times when I’d just as soon go on making coffee the same old way. But those times are not the pinnacle moments. The pinnacle moments are when I allow Christ to crack through the special protection I give my core ordering processes, and find that He can be trusted, all over again, with what I find most precious.

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