For some strange reason, the song All My Exes Live in Texas has been stuck in my head for days. Some people refer to that as an earworm. I’d wake up in the morning humming it and find myself doing so throughout the day. Maybe it’s because one TV commercial running now plays that song. It’s a good thing that a friend posted Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful today on Facebook, because I’ve been humming that far better and more appropriate tune since then.
It wasn’t enough to want to get rid of the first song. It took replacing it with something else to get it out of my head.
As I ponder this simple experience, I am reminded of the similar truth when it comes to changing behavior or breaking bad habits. It is not enough to want to change something about yourself. It is not enough to tell yourself for the millionth time that you are going to stop doing something you don’t think you should do. You must replace it with something else. Otherwise, the old is still hovering around and all too ready and able to take root again.
I’ve heard several pastors make this point in reference to a gospel story from Matthew 12 where unclean spirits are cast out but find the original home empty and return with more unclean spirits to make the condition worse than it was originally.
Whether it be the simple matter of what song you are humming, or a weightier matter of breaking a bad habit, changing some business process, or even a very heavy spiritual issue, be mindful of leap year lesson #183 – Replace – don’t just stop – what needs to change.