Practice Makes Permanent

Fort Leavenworth is an historic post on the Missouri River near the head of the old Oregon and Santa Fe wagon trails. In the mid 1800’s, river boats would bring wagons laden with supplies and passengers and deposit them on the river banks below the old fort. The wagons quickly carved out a permanent impression in the steep grade that leads up the hill from the river landing. Soon, every wagon that disembarked took the same, well-worn trail to the top of the bluffs, deepening the ruts and making it even harder to choose another path. Even today, over a century later, you can walk out behind Fort Leavenworth’s Memorial Chapel, look down toward the river, and see the U-shaped gully created by generations of wagon drivers who took the road most traveled.

We often act a lot like those ancient wagon drivers. If I sit in the same place in chapel twice, that’s now “my spot.” I’ll sit there every Sunday. Sometimes I only have to repeat an act twice to make it a habit. In some instances, this is simply evidence of amusing human behavior. Sometimes, however, it leads us to disaster. Even if we realize that we’ve made some bad decisions, the human psyche often finds it easier to repeat the behavior we know than to take a chance on a behavior we don’t. Our actions, whether good or bad, quickly become habits. They say practice makes perfect, but in truth practice makes permanent. Often, we can imagine no other way of living or acting. We don’t know how it would be possible to break out of the ruts that we have created for ourselves.

If you are stuck in a rut of your own making, even though you know there’s a better way, perhaps today is the day when you start pulling those reigns to the right or to the left. It may be difficult and it may take some time to achieve, but you can change the direction of your life. May God give you the grace to blaze new trails when the old ones are going nowhere.

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