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How many times have you tried to change your life and failed? You threw the ciggys away, dumped the drink, tossed the sweets, or deleted their number from your phone. You told yourself, “never again.”

And for a little while, for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks, you rode high and in victory. But then something happened, you had a bad day at work or someone waved a cronut under your nose, and just like that you were right back to your old habit. And no matter how much you beat yourself up, you still ended back up where you began.

Change is tough! Especially when we are trying to change something in our life that has become part of our normal routine. Whether it is drinking a soda or a beer after work, having a cigarette on our break, or snacking in front of the TV, these routines are strongly entrenched and become almost automatic. We don’t even consciously think about doing them most of the time.

Let’s get even more personal for a moment because some of you don’t have any of the vices we’ve talked about so far. Have you noticed the way that people walk around with their phone in their hand and “check” the screen every few moments? How about at stop lights? Have you ever looked around and noticed how many people grab their phones and pet them during the red light? Or maybe you’re too busy looking at your phone.

I particularly love the chimes, dings, chirps, guitar riffs, and dog bark alert sounds that cause people to go scrambling. I’m pretty convinced that if an alien culture came to study us, they would conclude that we get our marching orders from our phones. Bye, bye free will.

But I digress.

The point is that we get trapped in these habit patterns that are really, really difficult to break. And we don’t help ourselves when we try to change things cold turkey. More often than not, that is a recipe for failure.

A recent study showed that people trying to lose weight were much more successful if they didn’t change anything else other than beginning to journal everything they ate. This small change led to other changes — they became aware of what they were eating and some of the habit patterns that surrounded their eating. This awareness then led them to make adjustments to those patterns. It caused them to break out of their automatic routines and introduce some healthier ones.

As humans we want everything right now. We want a new life tomorrow, or better yet today. But we aren’t designed to work that way. The prophet Isaiah said more than three thousand years ago that God, “tells us everything over and over--one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!" In other words, little by little!

Want to grow? Lose weight? Quit a bad habit or relationship? Perhaps you want to build a good habit of eating right, talking to God more, or changing the way you talk. Maybe you start small and build on little victories. Maybe you begin by asking some “why” questions (“Why do I do that?”) before jumping to the what question (“What do I need to do?”).

You just might find the key to your change is little by little.

The pastors of Kings County would love to encourage you in your growth. Maybe the little change you need is to begin a relationship with God. We can help!

Andrew Cromwell is the Executive Pastor at Koinonia Church. Comments can be sent to:

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