Wednesday, February 13, 2008


"That's me, trying to make any progress at all with family, in work, relationships, self-image: scootch, scootch. stall; scootch, stall, catastrophic reversal; bog, bog, scootch. I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things; also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark.
I suppose that if you were snatched out of the mess, you'd miss the lesson; the lesson is the's slog, bog, scootch."
-Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott

The shattering of one's habits can be a remarkable affair. By no means is it a quick process and there are slow steps one must take to overcome. And, of course, there too is the backslide that seems, well, impossible to avoid. What is remarkable to witness though is the liberation that comes pouring out of the one fighting the habit. All of the sudden aspirations come pouring out of the mouth which, seem too chewed over to be so sudden. Because they are not sudden. The person has been chewing these new ideas, new plans and new lifestyles over in their head for weeks, months... years; they are anything but new. For awhile I could have easily said that I was sick of hearing these off-the-cuff promises. I was sick of hearing the promises but, maybe I was not listening quite close enough. This breaking of habit had nothing to do with me. I wanted to be the rescuer every time but, that is not who I was supposed to be. That may have been the role I auditioned for, and usually get casted as but, not these times. My new role is the "sit-by-my-sider", the one that encouraged and loved and held the hand of the addict but, not the one that was going to fix this problem. Not this time. Well, actually never will I be the rescuer again. I was getting frustrated with a situation that I had no participation in because I wanted to fix it and that was taking the focus off of the person who needed it the most. So, as each step is taken and each promise is made, us, with the role of "sit-by-my-sider", must sit, encourage, challenge and love those that are trying to overcome this nagging problem.
What is interesting, too, is that these "habits" seem to be different in everyone's life and, honestly, we all have them. It just so happens that some habitual acts are addictive, unhealthy and saddening to observe where other tendencies are frivolous and not nearly as harmful. Recently I have encountered a friend trying to vanquish an addiction. One slow step at a time this friend makes progress but, unfortunately, this friend also has huge set backs. It's heart breaking because I want to believe this friend when talk of change comes up. This friend wants change but cannot figure out for what reason the change is even needed. The friend's dad participates in the same activities and friends constantly say, "Nah, it's not a big deal. It's not like you are going to do it forever." I will never forget the refreshed look on this particular friend's face when, together, side-by-side, we literally shattered a piece of the problem. It was an exciting and a step forward. We both were hopeful. But, then a backslide happened and I wanted to reach out and rescue this friend but, I need to just sit, encourage, challenge and love by the friend's side. This grace that is given to us will save us in the end. I must sit on the side and sit, encourage, challenge and love.
As the shards scattered, some of the addiction was broken and flung away. But, at the time I never thought the fact that this piece-of-the-problem's inability to crack and shatter all the way would be a visual interpretation for the months ahead. There were still chunks lying there on the ground, sharp edges glistening in the early afternoon sun, waiting to catch on and linger, keeping the addiction going until the very end. There have been some huge steps forward since that afternoon, just like there were some big pieces that shattered upon the pavement. And those big steps are what keeps me optimistic that change will come soon. And that the change is within this friend because this friend wants it. It's not just because I, or anyone else, wants it.

The habit will shatter, piece by piece, and that friend just needs a "sit-by-my-sider" who will just sit, encourage, challenge and love.

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