One of the questions I get asked most often is, “Will I ever change?” When you’ve been struggling with the same habit for years—maybe even a life time—at some point you start believing the lie: I’ll never change.
Yet we can’t get around the fact that the Bible tells us we can do all things through God who strengthens us. The question isn’t, “Can we change?” but “How soon will God change us?” The answer to that question is, “It depends.” Here are a few things that affect how soon you’ll experience victory with your habit.
7 Factors That Affect How Soon You’ll Break Your Habit
- How long you’ve had the habit. I quit my smoking habit in the third grade after having my first cigarette. It was an easy habit to break because I only had two puffs under my belt before breaking it. But imagine if I’d smoked for 30 years and then tried to quit. It would be a lot harder, right? The longer you’ve had a habit, the harder it will be to break.
- How deeply engrained the lies are. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at how quickly God changes your attitudes and actions when you start renewing your mind. But with most projects, the lies are so deeply engrained that you’ll have to renew your mind about the same lies over and over again before you believe the truth at a deep enough level to change you. If those habits and lies have been in your family for generations, it will take a lot of truth to blast them and their accompanying behavior out of your mind.
- How often you give up. One of my earliest renewing of the mind projects was the “lose weight and keep it off” project. I was expecting it to take a couple of months, but instead it took years before I started living in victory. The reason it took so long is that I’d renew my mind for a little while, then give up because I wasn’t seeing results. I would have changed more quickly if I’d continued to faithfully renew my mind, even when it didn’t seem like it was working.
- How often you renew your mind. I finally broke free from the control of food when I made and followed through on the commitment to renew my mind every single time I broke my boundaries. I needed that time with God to change the way I thought about food.
- How much effort you put into renewing your mind. In my pre-kid life I worked at a bank and often went to the gym after work. Sometimes I went to the gym, skipped the work out, and just sat in the jacuzzi. I was at “the gym” but I wasn’t getting in shape. The same is true for our time with God. Going to the couch with our Bibles on our lap won’t do anything for us. We need to be actively engaged with God and His Word if we expect Him to change us.
- How complicated the project is. Sometimes when you start a renewing of the mind project, it feels like you’re starting with a ball of yarn that is so tangled, you can’t even find the end of the string. You have all kinds of emotions, memories, and lies feeding into the habit, and the project feels almost too overwhelming to tackle. For me, weight loss, procrastination, and insecurity about writing have all been “big ball of yarn” projects. With weight loss and procrastination, it took years to reach the point where I was living in victory. I’m still not there with insecurity/fear, but the ball of yarn is getting pretty small.
- What else God wants to teach you along the way. This is a tricky one because there’s no doubt: God wants us to break free from controlling habits and negative emotions. He could do that in a flash, but He usually doesn’t because He has other lessons He wants to teach along the way. If you’ve been working on a project for awhile, don’t get discouraged. God loves you. He wants to help you with it. Try to rest in His love and trust Him to set you free in His time. He’s far better equipped to be in control than we are.
Are you feeling like you’ll never change?
If you’re currently feeling like you’ll never change, ask yourself this question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much effort am I putting into renewing my mind?” If it’s less than an 8 or 9, consider getting an accountability partner to help you renew your mind. It will also help to read back over the list above and see how many of those factors apply to your renewing of the mind project.
If you’re trying to break free from a habit, also ask the question, “Do I have boundaries?” and then, “Am I renewing my mind every time I break them?” You may also want to consider seeing a counselor if you need some extra help.
As you ask yourselves these questions and continue to go to God for help with transformation, remember these Bible verses:
- For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
- Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9
God is faithful! He’ll change us. We just need to keep going to Him for help.