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19 December 2007

Everything in Moderation -- Including Moderation

Over the past week or two, I've slowly gotten out of my regular habit of getting up early. I've felt I needed a little additional sleep, so I've set my alarm clock for an hour or so later than ususal (or have snoozed it a silly-large number of times).

The first morning after I went back to my original wake-up time a few days ago, I was on my second cup of coffee and thought, "Wow... I feel horrible!" I tried to assess whether or not I was coming down with the flu, since I'd had some of those symptoms a few days earlier. Thankfully, I was able to rule that out -- my wife says I'm a horrible patient (but I don't belive that; it's got to be her imagination). Then I tried to think of the foods I'd eaten the night before that might be contributing to my rotten feeling-ness, but I could think of nothing out of the ordinary.

It dawned on me that I'd not gotten "up and at 'em" that early for almost a solid week; I was out of the habit. I came to this conclusion because I recalled feeling similarly horrible a number of times, most notably after all-night youth lock-ins when I was a teenager. After thinking of those wonderful days gone by, my brain remarked, "You're just tired!"

So here I sit this morning, back in the routine and not feeling anywhere near as poorly as I did this time a couple of days ago.

It seems to me that it's generally difficult to establish a good habit. Once it's established, a good habit is easy to break simply by not doing that particular thing for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the opposite seems true of bad habits. A bad habit is relatively easy to get into, but is extremely difficult to break. This pattern is really not surprising, given our sin nature as humans.

Paul said, "[L]et’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." (Galatians 6:9, NLT) My sleep habits may not provide the perfect illustration of this, but the word "tired" brought it to my mind.

A life of balance is required if we're truly not going to grow weary in doing good. As I've noted before, some people seem to excel when they're constantly going and doing, but others will hit points at which the brain says, "WHOA! Slow down!" Once we've gotten to that point we've probably gone just a little too far, and we may find a real need to withdraw from certain activities, good ones included. Once withdrawn, it's likely to be difficult to get back into the swing of things. I'll bet you can apply this to a specific area of your life. I can certainly do so.

I'm still learning that it's okay to say, "No, I can't do such-and-such; I need to keep that day open to spend with my family," if the matter is not one of extreme urgency. I believe the most difficult part of saying something like that is learning when not to use it simply as an excuse.

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