I heard a discussion centering on how we, as humans,develop patterns. Afterward, I did some research and stumbled upon this article by Havi Brooks. It is titled, “The science behind your habit (Or: It’s not your fault. It’s your brain!).”
Below is a summary of the article:
“There’s this semi-creepy deja vu thing that starts happening when one of your patterns kicks in.
It doesn’t really matter which pattern. Truth is, of course, we’re in pattern mode all the time. The way you stand, the way you react to certain smells, the way you breathe. It’s all patterns and patterning. But you tend to only think about it when one specific pattern is driving you batty and you just can’t find your way out of it. Before you start hating on yourself for succumbing to those irritating habits and patterns, here’s the out, and it’s legitimate, too: it’s not your fault that you repeat the same behaviors over and over again. That’s your wiring. It’s the job of your brain to follow patterns. That’s how it works, so that’s what it does.
Not that shifting all the blame to your brain is any great reassurance, but there you have it. Your zippy little neurons, bless them, like doing familiar things so they can zoom off on autopilot. No “road less traveled” stuff for them. They like the old, familiar path. Your brain is filled with neural pathways. They’re formed by your oldest habits and memories, and (this part is kind of crazy) are actually strengthened every time you repeat a familiar action. Or react emotionally in a similar way. Or mull over how much you can’t stand something or someone.
It’s just amazing to me the way you can sometimes almost see the neurons in your brain whizzing right past the less deeply marked pathways and following the old road that they know so well. Whoosh! It’s exactly like the way that path formed in your yard, the one from the door to wherever you go the most.”
Now, for some geeky Bible stuff:
Romans 12: 2 states: "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that youmay prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
See that word, “transformed” in the above passage? The Greek word used is “μεταμορφόω”; it literally means, “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure.” The message presented by the Apostle Paul is: if you have patterns that are not healthy, sinful, bad, (or whatever word you want to insert), you can change by the power of God. You can start creating new paths by intentionally setting fresh patterns in your life. It seems like Paul and Brooks are emphasizing similar points just from different perspectives.
Recently, I took my dog Charlie on a nice long walk in the woods and soon we discovered a pathway. That path did not just clear itself. It was made by men and women trotting along, beating down the grass, clearing the way. Over and over the same trail was taken and then viola, a nice clear path was formed! Now let’s say that Charlie and I were feeling adventurous and one day we decided to “go where no man has gone before” by creating a new path. That means we would have to veer off the original path and start the process all over. This is what Paul means when he says to “transform” your mind. It is the hard work of setting new patterns in your life. It is the difficult journey of drawing in and applying new thoughts into your mind.
And this is all very tough work.
This is why you find so many people still pulling from their “4 year” degree 25 years after their “4 year” degree. We become complacent with the grooves already set. And I am here to tell you that this is not acceptable for today’s leader, nor dare I say for the Christian. It is our role to endeavor a Christ-likeness in our lives and this means a continually renewing. My philosophy on renewal is simple; the only way to keep a cracked vessel from leaking is to continually fill it. (Or you could always use duck-tape … but that would ruin my analogy).
Renewal and transformation is a lifelong process of intentionality.