“The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head” (Micah 2:13).
One of the harmful habits that affect our health and which is considered a real global epidemic is smoking. It kills almost 6 million people every year. Every time they asked John about the cigarette, he would playfully answer:
«It’s very easy to quit smoking! I do it every day!
And this way, he eluded a problem that became increasingly difficult to resolve. His youthful years had passed and the cigarette was not a symbol of rebellion or independence anymore. It already denoted a lack of self-control which affected not only his physical health but also his family life and work. Now, he is trying to hide the inefficiency of his attempts to put off this bad habit so he answers them with humor. However, in the bottom of his heart, he yearns to free himself from it as much as the ones who were rebuking him. How could he free himself from such harmful habit? Why could he not change if he wanted it so much?
The increasing advances made in neuroscience show that habits are steady connections between neurons. In order to perform an activity, a whole series of neurons are activated in a concatenated manner, acting jointly. We are talking about neural circuits or pathways that simultaneously get intensified as we repeat an action which becomes automatic and thus we repeat it out of habit.
So when we speak about breaking bad habits, it is useless to abstain from them gradually. On the contrary, it is necessary to make a new habit by altering the cerebral pattern that generates it. In other words, it is necessary to build a new circuit of nerve cells which will focus on performing a new task. Activating a new neural circuit can be as complicated as opening a new path in the middle of a dense jungle. The good news is that, once open, this path is much easier to pass through although it still needs considerable effort and willingness because the slightest distraction can make a person unconsciously go back to the old path.
Nonetheless, in order to break a bad habit, we need the power of Christ. Through His strength we would persist and establish ourselves on the right track. The bad habits exercise a powerful opposition and their paths hardly disappear. But if we stop taking their path and fight against them with courage and perseverance, we can confidently say, «The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the Lord at their head.»