"Do you know," the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said rather sarcastically to Yours Truly, "you have the bad habit of leaving your socks rolled up under the bed?"
Being the sarcastically-challenged husband that I am, I knew this was rhetorical and not a quest for information. I simply flashed her one of those infamous husband blank stares and absentmindedly nodded affirmatively. After all, what else could I do?
If I deny they were my socks, it would only open up a whole new line of interrogation. And believe me, I did not want to go there. I'm saving that argument for when I am old and senile.
If I admit they were my socks it would only confirm her accusation that I possess a "bad habit." I grudgingly accede to her the satisfaction of being right.
I know she is right more times than she is wrong but I'm also betting on the odds that some time I'm going to be right and she is going to be wrong. The only problem with this is, if I am right and she is wrong who in their right mind is going to tell her?
I could also argue that if this was the only "bad habit" I had she should count herself rather lucky. But that would only open up the subject for investigating other areas where may be lurking "bad habits" she has suspected. And her scrutiny rivals the Almighty.
Furthermore, I could argue that it may be a habit but not necessarily bad. This too would only invite further examination of the habits of you know whom. When someone said, "Ignorance is bliss," they had in mind situations such as I faced. I am cultivating blissfulness.
In baseball if you drop the ball, that's an error. In marriage if you drop the subject, that's considered a home run. And I have not been keeping score but I'm sure one more strike and I will be out, so, not being Pete Rose, I'm not betting on the home team.
Later on, as I gave this subject of "bad habits" more thought, I came to a rather alarming conclusion. One person's bad habit may be another person's pleasant afternoon excursion. And who has the right to conclude that one person's habit, just because you don't approve of it, is bad?
Actually, I really don't know what a bad habit is. Obviously, it has something to do with rolled-up socks under the bed. I don't get the connection but I got her point. Her point being, don't throw your rolled-up socks under the bed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for improving oneself and correcting anything that might be considered bad. But I think this should be a personal matter n something between a man his conscience. However, the only thing between a husband and his conscience is his wife.
If you want to rid yourself of a bad habit, fine. I believe that's commendable. You got my wholehearted support. Just leave me with my bad habit. It just may be the only thing I have left.
Everybody (and by "everybody" I'm hinting at my wife) should respect other people's habits. After all, it may be the only thing between them (and by "them" I'm referring to myself) and absolute insanity. I have met a few people who tilted toward the insane and could have used a good "bad habit" to have a little balance in their life.
I don't think it is a stretch to assume that everybody has a bad habit. If I had a death wish, I could point out several bad habits enhancing the life of my good wife. Boy, could we swap good stories about "bad habits."
Since everybody has a bad habit, I have come up with what I think is a great solution to the problem. Let us assume everybody has a bad habit. Furthermore, let us assumed that for some strange reason people want to get rid of their bad habits.
Everyone with a bad habit should get together, write their habit on a piece of paper and drop it into a huge revolving drum. This drum should be spun vigorously. When all of the papers have been thoroughly mixed, the drum would stop. Then, by a lottery system, people would come forward and pull out a brand new "bad habit" for the coming year.
If a person happens to pull out their old "bad habit," they are counted as the winner and can enjoy that "bad habit" for another year without anybody harassing them.
I know dealing with habits can be exasperating, especially if said habit is considered bad by some significant person in your life. Perhaps the most difficult habits are those spiritual habits. I believe it's important to cultivate good habits in the spiritual realm but also breaking bad habits is imperative.
Fortunately, I have found something better in my life than a whimsical lottery to deal with habits in my life. The apostle Paul mentions this in one of his epistles. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV.)
Sometimes, the more a person tries not to do something the harder it is not to do it. God has a marvelous way of sorting out all these things, if we let Him.
James L. Snyder is an award winning author and popular columnist living with his wife, Martha, in Ocala, Florida and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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