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Topic “‘NORMAL’ is a Dryer Setting”  

Time:  7:00 p.m.  Thursday Jan. 14th 2021
              1. Welcome with Prayer   2. Check-in  3. Announcements
             4. Discussion ( Neil)  5:  Wrap-up 8:10 p.m.
"The steadfast love of the LORD
never ceases; his mercies never
come to an end; they are new
every morning; great is Your
 Faithfulness” ...Lamentations  2:22-24 

Neil has asked that the “Home-Work”  essay
          be reviewed by all.
‘NORMAL’ is a Dryer Setting Neil Jan 10, 2020+1

As a one-liner pun, it’s cute, but perhaps there’s a deeper meaning, a bit of a psychological ripple beneath it.

As social beings we have quite naturally a “Happy New Year” wishing habit. However, it may often be not far away another habitual desire - to purge some other habit (or 2) that doesn’t come with such good feelings.

Most of our habits are really in the banal category, but some, without our realizing it, can really be stumbling blocks on the road to our being the person that we’d like to be. Habits, both good and bad, can be both physical and spiritual.

Nothing new here so far.

2020+1 - I write the date this way because I’m inclined to see this year as possibly an extension of 2020 and a continuation of many of the struggles that arrived with the pandemic. We have discovered that good things such as visiting with friends and family have been flipped upside down; now it’s become a bad habit, but so hard to stop – like turning on a light switch when the house is dark and you know the power is off.

Globally the cry is, “When can we get back to normal?” As Christians, we have this desire as much as anyone who may not outwardly profess faith. We live with one foot in the consumer world and the other hopefully planted somewhere near the church door. We may think of prayer as our “get out of jail” card, but our prayer lives and daily behaviour can be trapped on “Normal” and that, in truth, can be a very ‘Dry’ setting.

I heard a talk on the process of change called ‘A Creature of Habit’. Some habits are life sustaining. If we didn’t have some useful habits, we might go crazy on a daily basis having to decide every little issue as if we’d never seen it before. So, some of what follows may seem obvious, but I have found myself able to miss the obvious on occasion.

The first premise of the talk was: it is a fallacy that if you change your belief or thoughts about something, a behaviour change will follow. Two quick examples: if you happen to be a smoker, reading the Surgeon General’s warning does not effect much change. One can know all that life-threatening stuff but still be unable to ‘kick the habit’.

A second example could be climate change, resource use and disposal practices. Knowing what we do, do we really do anything substantial about these issues or do we really ‘window dress’ our habits and just carry on?

What about, given our pastorate members’ ages (or really at most any age), our heads seem to regularly issue commands to our bodies that are perhaps 10 to 20 years past our “Best Before” date. Think about how often we are disappointed by not completing – or even starting – a task that once was so easy.

Some people are blessed to change habits “cold turkey” but most of us need what the speaker called ‘Friction’. That is the injection of an action that interrupts the flow of our automatic behaviour. If you can force yourself to become really thoughtful about a bad habit it becomes easier to control. A quite funny example of this is a study of people going to a movie and all being given popcorn. Half the group were asked (without the other half knowing) to eat popcorn with their non-writing hand. The result was that those people, for the most part, rarely finished – or only partly ate – their bagful. The other group pretty well all finished their bags. The ‘hand-to-mouth’ habit simply completed the task.

There are several other examples in the eating category that were cited as to how a small change can lead to an overall larger change of habit. Healthy food? Plan ahead before going shopping – we can be terrible creatures of habit in supermarkets – learn some of the aisles you’re unfamiliar with. “Mise en place” cooking means laying everything out ahead of starting the actual cooking = greater chance of success, hence greater willingness to try new things.

Is it exercise? Choose a time that really works for you rather than waiting for the feeling to come. Pre-select activity that is possible for you (note age factor cited above). Figure out ways to make things more enjoyable in little ways. Watch out for always falling for your old habit “cues’. A cue is a time or place where you might regularly perpetuate a habit you want to be free of. Find a new cue (time or place) to start a new habit and stick to it. Will power needed.

What about relationships? Some need renewal, so require nourishment in perhaps new ways. Conversely, there are times when we simply are no longer the person we have made ourselves out to be, or we’re not the person another person once needed us to be. Maybe it’s time to move on. Parenting could give us an example or two here.

Some of our bigger issues are internal – residing in the world of thought. “Thoughts are energy – you can make your world or break your world by thinking.” (Susan Taylor) Christian or not, prayerful or not, this is an issue all of us walking the earth have to deal with. In this time of pandemic most of us need to train our thought processes so as to not end up mired in tough loops.

The changes – or even chaos - of these times can actually give us a profound opportunity for trying new things. Under stress we can discover the impetus to form new habits and even keep them.

“Heaven knows” this world is so in need of some new people habits.

Time for a New Normal?


for more information and to get the zoom link, please contact Tony using the contact form below.

Contact Tony for more information