Have you ever experienced a vicious circle?
You know: Feel sad. Eat chocolate or sugary treats. Feel hyper or aggressive. It wears off. Feel sad. And grumpy and defeated about the weight gain. Eat chocolate to help you feel better. And then…
Or: Get stressed and tired. Let things lie where they fall. House gets messy. You get too stressed and low-spirited to pick it up. Things get lost and replaced. You feel bad about the mess and the waste of money, and that it would take too much energy to invite your friends over. Tidying would barely make a dent in the mess, so you don’t, and mess grows. And …
Or: Wake late, keep looking at the time. The day is slipping away without much getting done, feel depressed and defeated. Drink coffee, get a second wind, stay up late, aimlessly surfing Facebook, blogs, twitter, newspapers. So can’t wake early the next day. And so…sense defeat through the day.
Very, very sadly, I have slipped into each of these circles for years, even decades of my life!! I do confess it. Thankfully, though, I am not in any of these vicious circles at the moment!
Drawing Prayer Circles: Ways to change a vicious circle to a virtuous one
I am reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle-Maker. Mark talks about drawing figurative circles around your Jericho, the one dream you have longed for all your life, the dream your life has always tended towards, and pray bold, fervent, consistent prayers over it. Powerful prayers need to be specific, he says, just as powerful writing does.
I recently read a fascinating book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which mentions keystone habits, which set up a cascade of positive changes in one’s life. One of these is exercise, which is scientifically proven to make you feel better through the release of endorphins, so that you sleep better, work better, feel happier, and have better relationships. Other keystone habits, unsurprisingly, are waking early, and domestic order.
* * *
So one way to change a vicious circle to a virtuous one is to circle it in prayer–pray circles around it. The habit you want to change will be uppermost in your mind, and grace will be given you to make the tiny necessary changes, which will start a virtuous circle in place of the vicious one.
I have started circling many areas of my life in prayer— my husband, children, memoir, blog, writing plans, weight, home, garden, career, finances, love of travel etc.
And in each of these I am praying for a virtuous circle—where each action creates momentum and leverage, making the next virtuous action easier.
My Personal Jericho
Can you put a due date on the walls of Jericho crumbling? In Joshua 6, it was on the seventh day.
I’ve set a date for my Jericho to collapse—September 29th, 2016. It would be the day I first arrived in England, full of dreams and hopes and ambition, which have not been fulfilled, but life is long, and sometimes, God prioritises changes in you before he lets your dreams come true.
So these are the walls of Jericho which I would like to collapse by September 29th, 2016.
1) I would like to finish my memoir, which is now in a polished second draft (while not neglecting my blog).
2) I would like to get healthy. I am currently 84 pounds overweight, and I would like to get to a healthy weight
3) I would like to get the house decluttered, with everything in its place, and everything not beautiful or useful donated or chucked. (We’ve been tidying and decluttering weekly since summer 2008, so have made huge progress on this).
4) I would like to wake at 5 a.m.
Am I biting off more than I can chew? Who knows, but with God’s help, I believe the walls of this Jericho will crumble.
* * *
And I hope these goals are synergistic, and will set up a virtuous circle in my life
1 Exercise will help me sleep better, be clear-headed for writing, and feel happy. It will, also, God willing, build up muscles which will boost my metabolism.
I am planning to continue losing weight through Dr. Furhman’s Eat to Live diet as a template (with some deviations), and have already lost 18 pounds on it. It is a nutritarian diet, so, God willing, I will continue to rarely be ill, and to have high levels of energy.
2) Waking early will give me more time to exercise, to tidy the house, and to write, and will give me an increased sense of well-being and shalom.
3) Keeping the house orderly and tidy will increase my shalom and mental wealth. And increase focus for writing.
4) Writing–well that’s in a category in itself! The way it could help my other goals would be through the happiness it gives me. Though Julia Cameron suggests that writing down your words daily helps you lose weight.
So that’s it. That’s the Jericho I am praying around. If you think of me, pray for me, please?