Family, My Life with God

Life Behind the Habit

Did your mom and/or dad stand in the driveway and wave until you were out of sight? I saw a post about it the other day, and several people could relate. I do that…sometimes. I have no problem with it. It can be a warm gesture. Of course, some houses are better set up for it than others. Because of the placement of the door we primarily used in the house where I grew up, combined with the direction in which we usually drove away, it wasn’t feasible. If someone stood by the door and waved, people in the car probably wouldn’t notice. But I was close to a family who did it regularly. They’d waved from the driveway then walk into the street and wave until the car was completely out of sight. It was cute, but by the time we were all packed in the car and getting on the road, I was ready to transition into the trip ahead. Plus, I struggled with the practice a bit because of other actions that contradicted the expression of hanging onto every last moment. I began to feel it was much more out of tradition and obligation than connection and relationship.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have questioned the motives. I’d like to take things at face value, but it’s also important to connect the dots and keep words and behaviors in context. It would be unwise of us to refuse to put together the pieces that reveal a broader perspective. Sometimes that broader perspective reveals beauty we didn’t think we’d see when we look at individual pieces. Sometimes that broader perspective reveals some caution lights a snapshot of beauty doesn’t capture. Obviously, standing in a driveway to wave to the people driving away isn’t a behavior that makes or breaks a relationship. It’s not a habit that defines who we are and what we value. But even the simplest of things can remind us to be aware, not only of those around us but ourselves, too. I need to be aware of my own habits and take responsibility. If I continue something out of habit that no longer serves a purpose or honors others, or if I reject a habit simply out of avoidance of not repeating someone else’s mistakes, I need to pause. I need to be intentional. Traditions are good, but they can also become forced and empty. They can attempt to reflect something that’s not deep-seated enough to make an impact and be significant and trustworthy. 

What are those habits in your life right now? Maybe it’s not the habit itself that needs changing but the intention behind it. Perhaps you need to consider the message or goal you’re reaching for and infuse other areas of your interactions and influence with the same values for consistency. What can you change today?

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