Today’s Reading: Proverbs 26:11
“Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly.”
This is one of my favorite proverbs because it paints such a vivid picture for us. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this proverb shared when everyone in the room didn’t have a visible reaction, either laughter or cringing or wrinkling their noses. I think that’s King Solomon’s intention! He is placing before us something so utterly revolting that we all want to unanimously chime in that we would never do something so sick!
But then he hits us with the second part of the proverb – the fool who returns to his folly. Who among us hasn’t made the same mistake more than once? As I think back over my own life – even over the last few of weeks! – I find that I make the same mistakes over and over. As much as I regret my behavior and despite the negative consequences it has on my life, I continue to habitually make the same poor choices, often without even stopping to think first.
I don’t believe that I’m unique in this. We are creatures of habit – and unfortunately, we all develop some bad habits from time to time. Sometimes those are physical habits, like using drugs or alcohol to escape reality, overeating, or binge-shopping. Other times they are emotional habits, like being selfish, having unrealistic expectations of another, or being impatient. Whatever they are, we can’t seem to shake these habits and so we make the same mistakes again and again.
Fortunately, our belief is that God’s forgiveness abounds. We proclaim a God of grace who doesn’t write us off, no matter how many times we err. The good news of our faith is that God loves and accepts us, no matter what. Still, we are responsible for our choices. We are called to work to break those bad habits in order to draw closer to one another and to God. There is no expectation that we will suddenly become perfect, though! The road to acquiring wisdom is long, so our goal is to grow a little wiser each day, to learn from our mistakes.
But how do we actually do that? How do we enact true change in our lives? I, like many of you, am still figuring that out. In my own life, I’ve found that sometimes, it’s not as simple as just trying not to do something. Sometimes, I need to spend time looking deeper into my heart, thinking about why I am responding to something in a specific way. What is triggering my behavior? What emotions are behind that? When we spend time truly reflecting, and repenting, as our scriptures say, then we have a much better chance to make real changes. We will almost certainly slip up along the way, but each time that we avoid folly, it is a victory!
Today, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on your life. Have you developed any bad habits? Is there a mistake that you just keep making? What is driving that behavior? What concrete steps might you take in order to avoid making this mistake again? Offer your desire to change your behavior and your plan to do so up to God in prayer and write it down, so you can hold yourself accountable.