“Many of us are educated far beyond our willingness to obey.” – Erwin McMannus

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” – Bible

Debbie loved to eat, and since she was already overweight, this caused her a lot of anxiety. She wanted the pleasure without the consequences.

So before she sat down to eat, she would tell herself to take only one plate, and not a full one at that, and quit when it was gone.

But the main dish was soooo good – maybe just one more helping – and it was all over again.

Then there is Don. He started dabbling a little in online gambling, and before he knew it got in over his head. He knows it’s bad for him and for his family. For one thing it’s consuming all their finances. But he just can’t quit.

We all have similar problems, whether it’s something morally wrong that we can’t stop or a bad habit that’s hard to break.

The following quote is attributed to Justin and Trisha Davis, directors of an organization called RefineUs: “The difference between what we know and what we do in our life is what defines us.” There is more truth in this statement than we really want to admit.

In my experience, and in my conversations with pastors and others who counsel individuals and couples, most people who come asking for help often know what the problem is and have some idea of what the solution might be.

They are familiar with the Bible or some other reliable reference source. They have received input from others.

Moving from the head knowledge to the desired behavioral changes is very difficult, however.

As we have said before, real change in our behavior must follow a transformation in our thought process.

But even when our thoughts, our minds, tell us what is right, our will doesn’t seem to want to line up.

We know we shouldn’t be angry, but we choose to hang onto that anger, and forgiveness is out of the question.

We don’t want to struggle with lust or pornography, but we continue to watch TV and movies with all kinds of sex scenes.

We want to have a good marriage, but we won’t coordinate our schedules to have more time together as husband and wife.

The Davis’ have another quote that reminds me of Yogi Berra’s famous paradoxical sayings: “The more things stay the same, the more they never change.”

First of all, we must choose to change.

A friend of mine smoked all his life. He knew he should stop. But he deliberately told me he would not. He eventually died of emphysema.

However, we have already recognized that just choosing to change is not always enough. We often need more help.

A next step might be to gather more evidence about why we should change.

It is said that there are two primary drivers to change; either remaining where we are becomes too painful, or we determine that the benefits from changing are worth the effort.

Perhaps we feel that, desirable as the change may be, the process to bring it about is too difficult.

As the proverbial story goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Don’t try to bring about total change overnight.

Take baby steps. Pick yourself up when you fall. After all, that’s what we did changing from crawling to walking.

Frequently we must admit that we can’t bring about the change ourselves.

First of all, call on God to help. He’s in the business of transformation if we will let him.

We can also seek the support of others; they’ve probably been in need of help at some time, too.

The spouse is a best first choice for support. She or he will very likely be compassionately willing to help when you admit change is needed.

Loving relationships are what we are all after in the end.

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, Executive Director, FAMCO, 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com, www.aikenfamco.com.