What are you hanging onto?

Back in the ‘90s, one piece of jewelry adorned my wrist: a WWJD bracelet. Just about every church, conference, and youth group was proudly handing out these fabric bracelets. The intent was simple: help people think about “what Jesus would do” in any given situation (thus, WWJD), with the hope that we’d all act a bit more Christ-like.

For years, I wore this bracelet as regularly as someone would wear a wedding ring. But after a while, it simply became something else I put on in the morning. Though in the beginning that bracelet held a special purpose, eventually wearing it became a habit that didn’t mean much.

In time, I stopped wearing it, and rightfully so. An action I had taken up as a habit no longer served its purpose. So, I stopped doing it. How often is it that we, even as adults, find ourselves hanging onto habits that, perhaps at one time was helpful, but over time, have faded?

Recently while teaching at Shepherd, we were looking at a story in which Jesus is approached by a group of Jewish religious leaders. Trying to trap Jesus, they accuse Jesus and his followers of not abiding by a specific Jewish ritual: washing their hands. Today, we wash our hands as a way to prevent the spread of disease, but for the religious leaders, this tradition had nothing to do with hygiene; it had everything to do with a tradition they’d adopted long ago from their elders. Originally, the tradition had meaning – to remind the people to cleanse themselves before their Lord. In time, that meaning vanished – not too unlike the meaning of my WWJD bracelet.

The story goes on from there, but this first part of the story made me wonder: what habits (or traditions) do we hang onto that are void of meaning? What habits (or traditions) hinder us from experiencing wholeness and health? What habits (or traditions) blind us from seeing truths about ourselves and our society, that otherwise, we’d just shove under the rug?

For myself, I know that the past year-and-a-half has made me reconsider my habits, how I spend my time, and even how I see myself. In talking with others in our community, I know I’m not the only one who’s had these thoughts. Then here’s the question: are we willing to take those reflections and allow them to alter our habits in a way that opens the door for further growth and opens the door for further wholeness and health?

Considering these questions takes courage, but I am convinced that right now we have a unique opportunity to assess what it is that we’re doing – as individuals, and even as communities. So, this week, challenge yourself to consider your habits and what brings wholeness and health. If those habits do provide meaning, purpose, and health (for you and for others), continue onward! If those habits just aren’t doing that anymore, maybe it’s time to, “stop wearing the bracelet,” let it go, and free yourself for something new to be born.