One of my resolves this year is simple: read more. Last year, Goodreads says that out of the forty books that I had challenged myself to read, I read twenty-five. Twenty-five is a decent number but my brain needs a better workout so one a week has become the challenge for 2017.
My book stack of current reads contains four books, all non-fiction. While two of those four are related – Charlotte Mason – the other two are not at all Charlotte Mason but rather a memoir/practical help book on mothering and a book on the spiritual view of habit. These books are full of depth, a deepness that challenges mental capacity and at the same time encouraging the the current vocation in my life. Last year was full of deep and overwhelming days so encouragement quite literally feels like a breath of fresh air. (By the way, I will include affiliated links to the books I mention at the bottom of this post.)
Now, originally I chose these books in order to facilitate a greater understanding of what pursuits there should be in our home. These books are a tool, a means to aid my brain in forming visions and plans to bring greater peace and cohesiveness to our daily lives. Non-fiction is beautiful to me but it has to have a purpose. It needs to be read for a reason because it generally takes more time and mental power for me to read it.
The book You Are What You Love was waiting at my library for me via interlibrary loan. I had forgotten that I ever requested it and I must have done it at least six months ago. The timing is . . . interesting. And oh my, when all four books spoke specifically on habits, over and over, this was time to pay attention and understand that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was pointing out a specific need for our family.
Habits. Why habits? It sounds boring and as if it involves menial, monotonous, laborious instruction all day long. Compound that instruction by six, my brood of half a dozen, and it utterly overwhelms. But these habits that Charlotte spoke of, as well as the other homeschooling mom who’s book I am reading, sound practically beautiful and worthy of the effort and mama-time required to put into them.
It is so very hard to see beyond the now, the right-in-front-of-my-face work. At the same time, I am a natural visionary in that planning and looking forward to the future comes easily to me. It’s the in between, that time of steady plodding to get from point A to point B – oftentimes stopping at half-way points too many to count along the way – that stagger us and slow our feet. That is when we become the most weary and give up, hoping that we might pick it up at some other time but for goodness sake, I’m tired and haven’t I done enough?
But habits, good habits, ones that bless and create peace and help through hard times are something worth keeping-on keeping-on. There is trophy of sorts to be gained through the effort of learning new virtues and trampling underfoot vices. The benefits outweigh the exertion. The more we put into it the bigger the relief when we have said goodbye to bad habits.
I see this. Some people see it. Many do not. It is easy to put aside the formation of good in order to foster the easy. If many adults cannot grasp this, how do I teach it to my children?
Ah. That? That is the question of my life.
And so small breaks are made to ponder this while I read. There are many concrete, intellectual ways I can do this but the example I set personally for my children is the boldest and most potent means to convey to them the importance of forming good habits and eschewing bad. Easier said than done, right? And that is okay. Things were their salt are going to be worth getting there.
So start small. It is okay to start small. There are lists of virtues and good habits and if you do not like them, make your own or write down the ones found in the Sermon on the Mount or read about what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We have to start somewhere because we will never get anywhere without that small baby step.
For me, gentleness in speech will be my first step. There are so many I could have chosen but my sarcastic bent has wrought too much destruction to allow it further reign. There is no love in constant sarcasm and so toning down my words and the way things are spoken to my loved ones seems like the best place to start.
After that? Who knows. I certain do not. My trust is in the Holy Spirit who will surely convict me of that next good habit.
With the next post, I’ll discuss how I think habit fits into homeschooling. Until then, what are your thoughts on the importance of good habits?