"Are the habits that you have today on par with the dreams that you have for tomorrow?"
How can we break bad habits and form healthy new ones? The Savior gives us insight into the process in the following magnificent parable.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
"Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
"Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."
(Luke 14: 28-30)
Most of us are great starters and poor finishers. We begin to "mock" at ourselves, to lose faith in our ability to keep the promises we make with ourselves.
We simply to do not sit down first and count the cost to see if we have sufficent to finish - sufficent desire, sufficient internal thrust. We try to lift off our launching pad without realistically calculating the "g's" (gravity pull) and the resistance of the atmosphere (our environment).
We must never make a promise or covenant we do not intend to keep. If we can't make the larger ones, then we should begin by making the smaller ones. But we must begin somewhere to conquer temptations and unworthy habits.
I think most of us need to start with acquiring control over our body. We know in our minds what we need to do. Our problem is not a lack of knowledge - it is a habit. The body is sacred. It is the house in which the spirit lives. Paul, the apostle, called it a temple.
Now, Instead of skill or knowledge growth, let us consider the internal growth (emotional and spiritual) of an individual. Let us say, for instance, that a particular mother is at day five intectually (to use the analogy of the six days of creation) but at day two emotionally. Everything is okay when the sun is shining or when things go well. But what happens when fatigue and/or the pressure of screaming kids, diapers, dishes and telephones join together? Or struggling with uncooperative teen-agers and a husband who is always gone?
This emotionally immature mother may find herself absolutley enslaved to the emotions of anger, impatience, and criticalness. She may find herself incapable of acting upon what she knows in her mind is right, because of the built-in, ingrained habit of losing her temper. All this adds to her guilty feeling. And yet in public, when things are going well, one may never detect this internal deficency, this emotional immaturity. She has a good mind and seems to be patient and in control.
I fasted, and when I was done, I returned to my dorm room at Dixie College, knelt down on my knees, and simply asked, “Heavenly Father, is the Book of Mormon the word of God? And is Joseph Smith a prophet?”
No, I did not receive a vision or a visit from an angel. I felt warmth in my heart, a feeling I had felt many times before—a feeling I had felt when I attended BYU–Hawaii and took Brother Smith’s Book of Mormon class. It was the same feeling I had felt when I saw the movie about Joseph Smith. This time, however, the feeling of warmth came when I was by myself, and I knew it came from God. He answered my prayer. I had a testimony.
I told the missionaries that I wanted to be baptized, but first I wanted to return to Hawaii so my mother could witness my joining the Church. I thought that as soon as I got off the plane I would find the missionaries and join the Church. Well, that did not happen. I started to hang out with my old friends, and I returned to my old habits. Toward the end of the summer the old feelings of uncertainty and confusion returned.
In August 1986 I was at home in my room, and I decided to read the Bible. I read in John, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I knew I loved my mother; she is a source of strength in my life. I knew I loved my family, but did I love God?
I knelt down to pray and told my Heavenly Father for the first time that I loved Him. Later that day I was on my way to the gym to play basketball when I noticed two missionaries riding their bikes. I almost ran them over! They pulled to the side of the road, and I asked them to come by my home that night. They thought it was a miracle. The next week I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
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