It is said, in a 1970s book called Psycho-Cybernetics, that a habit can be broken in twenty-one days. Of course, this idea has been extrapolated from simply habit-breaking to life-changing. I am no psychologist so I dare not say that stopping something cold turkey for 21 days is curing. It isn’t. However, it is effective, even forceful.
At least, it is for someone as indecisive as I.
Four years ago, I gave myself 21 days to quit sodas. I’ve only sampled a handful since and the majority was accompanied by vodka. #kanyeshrug I once gave myself three weeks to quit cereal, which I will admit was more difficult than the sodas. Cereal is no longer a monthly staple in my pantry. Occasionally, stress has brought a box of Honeycomb back into my house, and I usually finish the box in less than a week. And then I go cold turkey again. Last spring, I was heartbroken over a situation that wasn’t going in my favor and I just couldn’t move beyond it. I installed a countdown on my phone that I couldn’t contact the source of my heartache for 21 days. It took less than that. Understanding that something much better is waiting for you at the end, therein lies the strength to reach that destination.
Recently, though, I gave myself twenty-one days to change my life. I’ve been unhappy and disillusioned for years with my career, my social life, my love life. Just life. I craved new challenges, new experiences, novel headaches. Yet each time an escape hatch would reveal itself, I’d find a reason to shut it instead of absconding. I stayed put. I had a decent position with great benefits and likable coworkers though both my career and salary were languishing. I was certain that if I kept shouldering more responsibilities and excelling, the right people would take notice and my career would be on the ascent again. I hadn’t met my husband yet, but my hotline did bling. There had to be a Russell Wilson in the sea of Futures. And though I lived in a city whose entertainment catered to college students and couples, there was always WalMart, right? I could be satisfied with sports bars and daiquiri shops. What else did I really need? Culture? Events that didn’t include the same people from parties when I was in college?
I convinced myself each time that I was content in my comfort zone. Those instances of glee and hope were enough to sustain me. Have you ever had a rock nick your windshield? It results in a small crack so you ignore it and continue to travel the same route. One day, maybe a week later, maybe a few months, another rock hits it. Yet you can still see your drive so you take neither the time to repair the windshield nor pick a different route to work. Until one day, the entire thing shatters and you can choose to blame it on whatever immediately preceded it or you can accept that this was inevitable and instead of being proactive about the signs along the way, you compartmentalized and pretended to not see those nicks and cracks.
Several months ago, my windshield shattered. (Figuratively, of course.) Everything around me was in pieces. My first reaction was that it was time to start traveling a different highway. Yet fear kicked in. I knew this route. I knew the other travelers. I knew the aesthetic and all of the attractions along the way. Why uproot myself from the familiar? Hence I did not.
But in the midst of my windshield cracking and ultimately giving way, a new acquaintance in my life turned me toward God. Now I grew up in the church, with older relatives that prayed for me constantly. But as I’d stepped into my adult life, my relationship with God hadn’t grown with me. Though I was an adult in my 30s, I still viewed Him from an adolescent’s view. I prayed from memory every night. I said grace at every meal. I thanked Him when things went my way. That was pretty much the gist of my Christianity.
Consequently, I began to read the Bible, research Scriptures, have meaningful conversations with those living in Christ around me. I chose to be more present in my prayers. I repaired my windshield and continued along the same highway, but now I had a passenger. Yet there remained this fear in me. I could see clearly again but I was still seeing the nouns that launched rocks at me originally. I could now be defter in my maneuvering, but I was in discontent and I couldn’t bury it as deeply as before. So at a suggestion, I engaged in 90 Days of Prayer. As the days and weeks passed, I moved from the driver’s seat in my life to the passenger’s. And my new driver, well…He took the very next exit.
It wasn’t my intent for this blog to be my testimony, but that is what it has turned into. On February 26, I made the decision to leave my job and the city I’d been in for over a decade.I didn’t announce it on Facebook. My account was deactivated so the only voices I heard were myself and God. I mentioned my decision to a couple of loved ones, but I asked no one’s permission or for anyone’s advice. I chose to not give anyone the opportunity to awaken any dormant fears or for their decisions to settle in life to breed doubt in me.
21 days later, I left my job. On the 22nd day, I departed Louisiana.
I could tell you of the peace and freedom that now lives inside me. I could tell you how soundly I sleep or how fearlessly I greet each day. I could tell you of the happiness in every fiber of my being to know everything that happens next, if it be His Will, may be my choice but will be exactly what I need.
And it only took 21 days. True Story!
“Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come. While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe. Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong! As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” (Daniel 10: 12-19)
Today’s Soundtrack – Anthony Hamilton’s Ain’t No Shame