What I learnt from reading a proverb a day.
How many of us start the year with the intention of getting stuck into the word of God every single day? And then a few months into the year life becomes crazy, even with the best intentions we slip up. By June we find ourselves stopping and starting. Failing, starting again and just ended up frustrated and wanting to give up building this habit no matter how beneficial it might be.
Some of you may be thinking it's just because you tried starting a habit at an inconvenient time. And a while ago I would have agreed with you. It often feels like the stars need to align before we can create and be successful at creating a new, good habits in our lives.
In September 2018 I challenged myself to get back into reading the word, by reading a proverb everyday. Quite honestly the Bible had become stale, I felt like I was reading the same things over and over. The revelation and wonder was no longer there. So I thought proverbs, a book I hadn't really gotten stuck into was a good idea. I also didn't want to overwhelm myself so focusing on a chapter a day seemed manageable. Lastly I remember previously experiencing proverbs like a collection of riddles that I struggled to apply to my daily life. So, I decided to try a different Bible translation - The Passion Translation (TPT). Sometimes it's as simple as having something phrased differently for you to gain insight, understanding and re-ignite your passion and excitement for the word.
I got to day 13.
I had failed.
So when October 2018 started, instead of sitting back defeated I decided to try again. Spoiler alert: this time I succeeded.
This is what I learnt while reading 31 chapters of proverbs during the 31 days of October:
1. Proverbs is mind blowing!
No really, there is so much practical wisdom in there. It's great. So great i am considering re-reading it every month because there is too much in there to grasp the first time around.
2. Accountability is key.
Myself and 5 friends committed to reading a proverb a day. It really helped me because I am slightly competitive so I didn't want to be the last one to read the proverb. Also the youversion Bible app makes this so easy. It was great to be able to share thoughts, ideas and questions - that is what growth in practice is.
3. I wasn't perfect.
I didn't have 100% track record. I missed a few days here and there, especially over weekends. But it's not about how many times you fail but about how quickly you get back on track. It’s much easier catching up one day than several.
4. Just finish.
Even if it takes you twice as long, just finish. I didn't manage to finish reading all of proverbs on the last day of October instead it took me two extra days. But I didn't let that stop me, because I was determined to finish. That sense of accomplishment and success that comes with completing something doesn't have an expiry date, but you need to complete the task even if it is later than you wanted or planned.
5. Celebrate the smallest victories.
We tend to only focus on the end and not the journey and all the milestones we pass on the way. Celebrate these milestones however small and trivial, it makes all the difference. It helps keep you motivated and makes the journey more fun. I celebrated making it past the halfway mark - day 16. High-five! I then celebrated when the Bible informing me of having managed one perfect week of reading a chapter every. High-five! 13 day streak. High-five! Skipped two days, but caught up the third day. High-five! I literally High-fived my husband for every small success.
This seems easy. I even managed to summarise it into only five points. But consider how many professional athletes there are in the world. Significantly less than normal humans. The difference between us mere mortals and professional athletes is how quickly they get back to their good habits.
So don't feel discouraged at any past failures, just start again. If you stop, pick up the good habit as soon as you can. No need to wait for the new year to start new habits. Why not start today?
This July I am re-reading the book of proverbs. Join me in reading a chapter a day for the whole month of July.
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