When is it time? Since our family crisis of 2004 my husband and I have asked that question often in a lot of different context. His realization of abuse in his life and confessions of adultery that followed required soul searching, counseling, care of friends and family and time to heal. We have a new normal. That said, there are situations that bump up against our history. When they occur we still sometimes revert to old habits. I’m well aware of this as just this weekend I spoke inappropriately to a loved family member from one of my own ruts. Time worn ruts in our mind cause our thoughts to be on a path that may be no longer applicable. It’s a common problem that effects all of us. Our son commented to this effect a couple of weeks ago. He and a friend were talking and wondering when their past broken relationships would not have to be a nearly daily topic of discussion because of some current situation. Those old ruts can be worn deep even if they weren’t accurate. Our perceptions, meaning our take on a situation, can wear ruts in our minds too. In a recent class that I took we were taught that a “habit pattern of thought”- thought for about 6 weeks forms a stronghold. These thoughts can create bondage – a deep rut if you will. If you’ve ever been stuck on a muddy farm entrance to a field in the spring you know what I mean. I’ve watched my Dad have to attach chains to a vehicle and pull it out with his tractor. Sometimes it is like that with our minds we need “pulled out” of a deep muddy rut.
The thing about ruts is often there is a way around it. Sometimes there is simply an alternate path but we are so used to going down the original path we don’t even look for an alternative. We just go and before you know it we are stuck. It’s messy, time consuming and absolutely no fun. If I had just slowed down I would have seen that just moving my vehicle a foot to the left would have kept me on high, dryer ground and I would have driven right through with no delay. If that wouldn’t work I could have delayed entry until it dried out or possibly even made a new entry from a completely different side of the field. But when for whatever reason we think we need to enter the field we just go. Go without considering all the reasons why. Maybe it isn’t even necessary to enter the field right now, but our reaction is, go. When we do it often causes quite a mess. Our vehicle is splattered with mud and the rut is made deeper. Even if we don’t get stuck in a way that we can’t get through to the other side we get very dirty and so does everything near us. That’s takes time and energy to clean up and unfortunately sometimes the stains on things (people) around us don’t go away easily.
There is a permanent fix. It’s to rock, pave, or block off the entrance. Fill the rut with dirt and rock or pave over it. Do not allow it to be a rut anymore. This takes time, thought, and sometimes even a consultation with others to plan the best way to take care of this particular rut. It takes effort. It may take money. All of these things can be a sacrifice immediately but have a long term benefit, freedom from lies. Truth is vital for living free.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (emphasis mine)
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Well my driving through an old muddy rut of thinking this weekend has reminded me to slow down and look around before moving forward.
Do you have any muddy ruts in your mind? How can you identify them and fill them so you won’t get stuck? So I’m answering my own question, when is it time? It’s always time to consider an alternative route.